Government to explore Auckland transport pricing amid 'rising congestion tide'
A congestion charge will be considered for Auckland but the Automobile Association (AA) has warned not to let the city stall in the meantime.
Terms of reference have been set out for an investigation into "smarter transport pricing" in the growing city more than a decade after the Government first examined a road pricing system.
A road user-pays system or congestion charge are among the ideas to be considered according to Transport Minister Simon Bridges who announced the project on Wednesday.
AA infrastructure advisory Barney Irvine backs a congestion charge in the long term but wants to see a weighted cost-benefit solution sooner.
"We've all felt the rising congestion tide in Auckland and the scary thing is that it's going to keep rising for the next four or five years at least," he said.
"We're worried that traffic conditions will become unbearable before congestion charging or any other big-ticket solution is introduced."
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who hinted at the announcement on the weekend, says investigating road pricing is a practical, long-term solution.
"With 800 extra cars on Auckland roads each week and 45,000 additional residents in our city each year, radical changes need to be made to stop our city grid-locking," he said.
But Mr Goff also acknowledged it was a long-term solution with relief "years away" and called on the Government to consider revenue sharing in the meantime.
As happens in Australia he wants to see a percentage of GST devolved from the Government to help Auckland raise revenue for new transport infrastructure.
After agreement between the Government and Auckland Council the first stage of the investigation is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
As well as traffic benefits it will take into account the cost to households and won't be about revenue-raising, Mr Bridges said.
"A key factor will be the access people have to public transport and other alternatives."
The investigation comes 13 years after the Ministry of Transport first investigated road pricing for Auckland, resulting in a 2006 report considering several schemes.