Congestion charges clear poor people from busy roads

Congestion charges discourage ride-sharing and encourage wealthier people to use cars, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says:

“Why do New Zealand's central and local government almost always favour congestion charges instead of ride-sharing?” The answer is simple: wealthy people are effectively controlling the debate over congestion. Ride-sharing affects rich and poor equally; congestion charges favour the rich."

“Wealthy people love congestion charges. They simply pay a little extra for having the roads cleared of poor people who can’t afford to pay congestion charges.”

“Because congestion charges don’t bother the wealthy, the wealthy will continue to drive their cars as if they own the roads.”

“By comparison, the people who work three jobs in different parts of town are penalised for driving to work, even when they have little alternative.”

Matthew-Wilson believes that the fastest way to reduce road congestion is to sort out public transport and strongly encourage ride-sharing.

“Restrict the fastest lanes to vehicles that carry three or more occupants. Restrict the next fastest lanes to vehicles with two or more occupants, then make the slowest lanes available to cars with only one occupant.”

“If vehicles carrying multiple occupants get to work quicker, then other drivers have a powerful incentive to also share their vehicles.”

“Underlying the proposed congestion charges is a class system where richer people get premium access to the same roads that poor people can’t afford to use.”

“By comparison, restricting the fastest lanes to vehicles that carry multiple occupants affects the rich and poor alike, meaning everyone – rich or poor – has to change their behaviour if they want to travel quickly.”

Matthew-Wilson adds that the longer-term solution to gridlock must revolve around alternatives to using cars for everyday commuting.

“No major city can survive without a solid public transport network. The quickest way to get people out of their cars is to provide them with a reliable, convenient, affordable alternative.”

“It’s often claimed that a decent public transport system already exists in Auckland, but this is nonsense. Even with terrible congestion, it’s typically at least two or three times faster to drive than take public transport. Bus stops are frequently uncovered in all weathers, or they’re used as toilets or homeless shelters.”

I’m a huge fan of public transport, but it has be quality public transport, not cattle transport for humans. There’s no reason whatsoever that public transport can’t be as quick, safe and pleasant as driving a car. In the meantime we need a system that encourages all people to share their vehicles, rather than a system that favours wealthy drivers.”