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Fast lane fees could significantly cut congestion

New research shows fast lane fees could significantly cut congestion

New research conducted in the past 10 days shows the introduction of fees to use some roads at peak hours could see 11% of commuters opt to car pool and cause a big switch to public transport.

Some 11.8% of people who currently mainly use their vehicles to get to work say they will switch to buses, 5.9% to rail and 0.4% to ferries.

Some 14.6% will pay the fee to use fast lanes, while 34.2% say they will opt to use an alternative free route.

The nationwide ShapeNZ survey covering 2,034 respondents between April 19 and 27, 2011, asked what New Zealanders would do if fast lane fees are introduced at peak hours.

The fees were suggested this week in a report released by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development. It looked at the problems arising from a forecast 70 to 75% growth in freight volumes during the next 30 years.

The Future Freight solutions report proposed a raft of ideas to overcome inevitable congestion if nothing were done to make best use of roads, motorways and rail at peak hours.

Included were suggestions for opt-in fast fee lanes for freight operators, with free use of these for cars carrying three or more passengers. Previous ShapeNZ polling for the Business Council shows New Zealanders will support the use of peak our road pricing provided it results in less congestion and there is an alternative route.

Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says the one of the “greenest” congestion solutions is to put another person in each car. Most car trips to work involve a sole driver.

The latest ShapeNZ research, weighted and with a maximum margin of error of ± 2.2%, shows:

• 11% of all respondents would opt to pay a time of use fee and use the less congested road (14.6% of the 1,042 people who mainly drive their vehicle for employment reasons)

• 11.8% would become a passenger in a vehicle carrying three or more passengers to use the less congested road without a fee (10.5%)

• 34.2% would continue to use the free route (34.3%)

• 12.8% would take a bus and not pay the fee (11.1%)

• 5.9% would take a train and not pay the fee (4.6%)

• 0.4% would take a ferry and not pay the fee (0.4%)

Mr Neilson says the research indicates the idea for fast lane fees and fast lanes for use by freight, specially between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, is well worth pursuing.

“New Zealanders now accept that we can’t afford to go on building more road and motorways – this won’t solve the congestion problem, which 80% of New Zealanders expect to worsen if we’re to achieve the economic growth rates, and resulting freight volume growth, which are forecast.

“It looks as though fast lane fees and the ability for car poolers to opt into fast lanes, will result in very significant peak hour congestion reductions.

“These results suggest a trial of fast lane fees might be extremely worthwhile and prove the concept,” Mr Neilson says.

The Business Council has invited the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Stephen Joyce, to meet with 45 companies and organisations which took part in its year-long Future Freight solutions research project.


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