Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown signals discounts for low-income earners under his $5 congestion charging scheme on busy motorways
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown. Photo / Michael Craig
A day after floating the idea of charging motorists on busy sections of the Southern and Northwestern motorways at morning and evening rush hour, Brown said exemptions and discounts would be investigated during the next stage of work.
Brown has said there would be “big discussions” about the price, but he thought a reasonable price would be $5 each time motorists used the specified roads at peak times.
At tomorrow’s transport and infrastructure committee, councillors are expected to give the green light to the council and Auckland Transport to develop a congestion charging plan.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME. Auckland mayor Wayne Brown. Photo / Alex Robertson
Brown favours “time of use” charges on congested sections of the motorway “and potentially major arterial roads” rather than “congestion charges” in a ring around the central city.
He is looking at placing the congestion charges on SH1 between the Penrose and Greenlane on-ramps, and SH16 between the Lincoln Rd and Te Atatū on-ramps in the morning peak between 7am and 9am, and 4.30pm and 6.30pm in the afternoon peak.
Today, Brown said low-income earners, Gold Card holders, emergency vehicles, buses, motorcycles and mobility vehicles would be considered for exemptions or discounts.
“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.
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“I believe schoolchildren should have choices: walking, cycling, buses, not only using the motorway. Though it is obvious some scenarios of exemptions need to be considered,” Brown said.Brown has floated a $5 charge on congested sections of Auckland's motorways. Photo / Michael Craig
The impact of congestion charges on low-income earners is widely recognised with National’s transport spokesman Simeon Brown acknowledging the issue is “fraught and difficult”.
With incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon promising to scrap the 11.5 cents a litre Regional Fuel Tax that raises $150 million a year for the council, Wayne Brown wants time-of-use charging to be implemented as an alternative revenue source as soon as possible.
But he also recognised motorists need viable alternatives, saying the opening of the City Rail Link in 2026 will play a big role, as will improvements to bus services, such as the Eastern Busway and transponders on buses to trigger green lights.
“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,” said Brown, adding, “you can’t fix Auckland by doing nothing”.
Today, the Northern Infrastructure Forum welcomed signs of real intent from Auckland Council for a congestion pricing scheme, while the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance (ARA) slammed the idea.Northern Infrastructure Forum chairman Simon Bridges. Photo / Jed Bradley
Forum chairman Simon Bridges said no single initiative could do more to put a dent in Auckland’s rampant congestion than congestion pricing, saying the stars are aligning with consensus support across the political parties.
“We need to be open to new solutions, we need to be bold,” said Bridges, who took a cautious approach to congestion charging when he was Minister of Transport from 2014 to 2017.
ARA spokesman Jordan Williams said a congestion charge was simply another tax on already-struggling families, especially punishing those on fixed work hours or with school children.
“Any attempt to frame this as a tax switch with the Regional Fuel Tax is laughable. That tax would be unnecessary if Auckland Transport focused on spending its money on maintaining roads, rather than backroom bureaucrats and ideological projects,” said Williams.
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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, which is responsible for the motorways in Auckland, said it will support the implementation and operation of the policies of the incoming Government in the area of congestion charging.