Toll roads a poor way of solving congestion, says motoring expert

Auckland’s toll roads will penalise the poor without solving the causes of congestion, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says:

“The fastest way to reduce congestion is to encourage ride sharing. The fastest way to encourage ride sharing is to offer the fastest motorway lanes to vehicles that carry more than one occupant. If vehicles carrying multiple occupants get to work quicker, then other drivers have a powerful incentive to also share.”

“Underlying the government’s proposed road tolling is a class system, whereby poor people will be forced to use inadequate and unreliable public transport, while richer people will simply continue to drive with only one occupant.”

 “By comparison, restricting the fastest motorway lanes to vehicles that carry more than one occupant affects rich and poor alike, meaning everyone has to change their behaviour if they want to travel quickly.”

Matthew-Wilson says the longer term solution to Auckland's gridlock must revolve around alternatives to using cars for everyday commuting.

“No major city can survive without a solid public transport network. The reason Auckland’s roads are gridlocked is simply a lack of investment from central government.” 

“The government can miraculously find up to $10.8 billion dollars to build a second Auckland harbour crossing to carry more cars and trucks. It can find $1.7 billion for the dubious East-West Link  road in Auckland.  Yet the government can’t find the money to complete Auckland’s city rail link, which will have enough capacity for 30,000 people an hour during peak times.”

 “We need to look to cities like Vancouver; Canada’s federal government recently announced a massive funding increase for Vancouver’s SkyTrain. The SkyTrain currently transports around 117 million people per year, in comfort and safety. The Canadian government sees the SkyTrain as a good investment. By comparison, the New Zealand government’s own studies suggest that the taxpayer will get a return of around 40 cents on the dollar on Auckland’s proposed second harbour crossing.” 

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“The long term solution to gridlock is to provide motorists with a reliable, convenient, affordable alternative. Auckland is suffering from decades of under-investment in public transport. The government needs to seriously rethink its priorities.”