Congestion charges hand over our roads to wealthy motorists

Congestion charges penalise poor people and fail to deal with the reasons for traffic congestion, says the car review website 

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says:

“Congestion charges discourage ride-sharing and encourage wealthier people to use cars. But cities like Auckland weren’t built by wealthy people; Auckland was built by poor people who often had little choice but to drive to work.”

“Congestion charges don’t bother the wealthy because they can afford to pay them. So the wealthy will continue to drive their cars as if they owned the roads. Often, wealthy people live in areas with decent public transport but choose not to use it. By comparison, a person who works on a building site across town may have little choice but to drive. So, under the guise of saving the planet, the government is rewarding wealthy motorists while penalising poorer motorists.”

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

“Politicians in Wellington completely fail to grasp how terrible Auckland public transport is. Auckland public transport is hopelessly complicated, unreliable, expensive, sometimes unsafe and typically takes about three times longer than the same trip by car. A significant percentage of Auckland bus stops have no shelter, and bus shelters are often used as refuges by homeless people. All these problems are solvable, but they need to be solved before further measures are introduced to restrict the use of cars.”

Matthew-Wilson believes ride sharing is a far better alternative to congestion charges.

“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.”

“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.”