Tolls won’t heal Auckland's congestion, says motoring expert

Tolling Auckland’s roads will penalise the poor without solving the cause of its congestion, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says:

"The reason most Aucklanders drive to work is simply because there often aren’t many practical alternatives. If roads are tolled without giving motorists practical alternatives, most people will continue to drive to work, but pay more for the same journey. That’s not fair.”

“The Government also wants to encourage a significant increase in ride-sharing. That's great, but the fastest way to achieve this is to offer more 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.”

Matthew-Wilson says the solution to Auckland’s gridlock is “staring the Government in the face”.

“While the government cries out that it's too poor to pay for a proper train network for Auckland, it can miraculously find up to $6 billion dollars to build a second Auckland harbour crossing to carry more cars and trucks1."

"Trying to solve congestion by adding more cars and trucks is like trying to put out a fire by pouring petrol on it.”

Matthew-Wilson, who wrote a groundbreaking report on electric cars in 2010, says transport minister Simon Bridge’s claims about electric and self-driving cars are bordering on fantasy.

“It’s disturbing to hear the Minister of Transport offering unproven or non-existent technology as a way of solving Auckland’s transport needs.”

“Auckland’s gridlock isn't caused by how the cars are powered or controlled. It isn't caused by a lack of self-driving cars. This gridlock is caused by too many cars sharing too little space. It's that simple. Any transport solution that encourages the further use of cars in congested cities, effectively encourages further congestion."

“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.” [1]

“Despite claims by the government, New Zealand is perfectly suited to a train system powered by renewable energy. That would ease congestion, reduce the number of accidents involving trucks and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“The quickest way to get Aucklanders out of their cars is to provide them with a reliable, convenient, affordable alternative. Auckland is suffering from decades of under-investment in public transport. The government’s ham-fisted attempts to solve the congestion problem that it helped create, are certain to alienate the crucial Auckland vote.”





In 2011, the NZTA commissioned a Preliminary Business Case for their preferred tunnel option, compared to a bridge crossing. That study calculated a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of just 0.4. This implies that for every dollar spent, just 40 cents of economic benefits would result. The report is discussed further in this transportblog post. A further business case study is planned for the final design, but oddly this will be done after the designation decision has been made in 2017.