Auckland drivers could pay $3.50 to enter city under new proposal

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Words: Matthew Hansen
30 Nov 2020

Following this morning’s story of congestion charges being investigated for Auckland City, the council and government group working behind the scenes on a plan — The Congestion Question (TCQ) — have delivered their proposal with the aim of putting it into action by 2024.

Among the details unveiled in the proposal is where the CBD ‘cordon’ will sit [pictured below, red dots showing passages in and out of town that will be monitored), how much introduction of congestion charges is expected to reduce traffic, the cost of infrastructure, and what some Aucklanders will have to pay to access the city at peak hours.

As previously reported, reduction of traffic, a push to encourage people onto public transport, less greenhouse gases due to fewer cars, and increased revenue are listed as potential gains to such a scheme.

According to the TCQ, drivers travelling into the city during the peak hours of 6.00am–9.30am and 3.30pm–7.00pm could pay up to $3.50 per trip — the equivalent pricing of a two-stage trip on an AT Hop card. Driver journeys will be policed by cameras stationed on the fringes of the CBD cordon, which will monitor who’s coming in and going out using number plate recognition technology.

Those travelling during off-peak hours will be free. These include between 9.30am–7.00pm on weekdays, plus weekends and public holidays. There are some exemptions, including motorbikes, scooters, and buses with over nine seats.

Projections by organisers show that a congestion system could reduce traffic in Auckland’s CBD by around 8–12 per cent — a similar drop as to that witnessed during school holiday season. Stuff reports that it may cost $46million to set up the CBD cordon, cost $10million per year to run, and rake in $20million per annum in revenue.

Should the council decide to roll out the scheme on a regional scheme, costs could rise to $185million to set things up and $87million a year to run. On the flipside, it would generate $223million in revenue each year.

The plan to charge drivers travelling in and out of the city may just be the first phase of a larger plan to roll out similar strategies across the city in order to further reduce traffic congestion. The proposal references Singapore, London, Gothenburg, and Stokholm as case studies, although there is no reference to any of the cities that utilise a congestion charge scheme in Australia.

The proposal is to be debated for the first time on Thursday, although mayor Phil Goff has already given it his “qualified support”. “I acknowledge that in order to do it, you need to persuade the wider public it is an efficient and proper way of controlling congestion and building revenue,” he said, speaking to Stuff.

Those wanting to read the full proposal can do so by clicking here

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