Time-of-use charging on the cards in Auckland

Publish Date : 27 Nov 2023
Tou Traffic

The Transport and Infrastructure Committee will hold a meeting which councillors will be asked to give the green light for a group to be tasked with investigating time-of-use charging, with oversight from councillors. There will be public engagement during this work. 

The aim of time-of-use charging is to reduce congestion and speed up travel times throughout the city. It would then encourage a small number of people currently travelling to change their travel time, destination, or switch to public transport. Previous work showed this would mean our motorways would function like they currently do in the school holidays all year round. The charge would be a flat fee and would only be paid a maximum of twice per day, and only at peak times.

Mayor Wayne Brown says congestion is a major cost to Aucklanders' lives, and the message has been clear: Aucklanders are sick of waiting around in traffic.

“You can’t fix Auckland by doing nothing. And we can’t just build our way out of the problem; we need to make better use of our roads. I was voted in to get Auckland moving. To harness technology to get traffic moving faster. To complete busways and optimise our transport networks. That is what I’m doing. Overseas examples show us this works. Our motorways functioning as they do in the school holidays all the time, that sounds pretty good to me.”  

There could be exemptions for some motorists. Mayor Brown says as part of the next phase of work, exemptions and discounts will be investigated. 

“I’m frustrated with excuses around tradies and school children. Tradies I know would be welcoming this—they'd be getting into town 20 minutes faster for a small fraction of their hourly rate. I believe school children should have choices: walking, cycling, buses, not only using the motorway. Though it is obvious some scenarios of exemptions need to be considered. 

Previous work has indicated emergency vehicles, buses, motorcycles, and scooters would be exempt, and discounts for those on low incomes may be required and should be investigated further as part of the next phase of the work. 

“Residents, gold card holders, and mobility vehicles could also be considered. It’s also worth noting what I’m proposing here is a switch: getting rid of the regional fuel tax and putting in place a time-of-use charge so many people will be paying less overall.” 

This is in conjunction with making big investments in public transport to give people other options. Time-of-use charging is one part of the plan to reduce congestion and better manage demand on our roads. It is not a per-kilometre rate. It is charging motorists to enter congested sections of the motorways and potentially major arterial roads at peak times.

Mayor Brown says he’d like time-of-use charging to be implemented as quickly as possible, as long as people have viable alternatives. Much work is already underway to give people options. 

“The CRL will play a big role here by doubling our train capacity, as will the moves we are making with buses: the Northern Busway is going great, the Eastern Busway is underway, and a permanent Northwestern Busway is the next priority. We will also be looking at improving the Mangere-to-Airport route. We are implementing more dynamic lanes and will be using more transponders on buses to signal light-traffic signals when a bus approaches. There is a lot of work already underway here.”

He says Council’s Public Transport Growth Programme, is being implemented through Auckland Transport. 

“While transport patronage figures aren’t as good as they were pre-COVID, they are picking up, and bus services are fully back up and running now. Part of this story is getting the workforce needed to run our buses, and AT has reached its targets here in August this year." 

He says the next phase of the work will be more detailed.

“I am of the view that this should be on our motorways in the central areas of Auckland, which are the most congested, and this is also where public transport works best, which gives some people an option rather than paying the charge, but this will be confirmed in negotiations with the Government over the legislation required.”
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