Auckland congestion costing businesses $2 billion a year

Forget 'March madness' on Auckland's roads - truckies say the city is spiralling to a permanent standstill. 

Congestion is costing businesses $2 billion a year in lost productivity, and it's not just commuters who are getting fed up. 

Calven Bonney's firm transports sugar, vegetable oil and wheat all over the country. But thanks to Auckland congestion, his 120 trucks keep grinding to a halt whether it's March or not.

"It's all consumables the public need to survive," Mr Bonney says of his cargo. "We've got to do something to speed the traffic up."

Instead of five trips a day across the city, each truck is often only making three.

"Every hour for this truck is probably $160 per hour it's costing to sit in traffic," he says.

Auckland Council wants more people on public transport, and last night tabled a 10c/litre fuel tax for the city's motorists.

"It's time to take the hard decisions," Mayor Phil Goff said. "The regional fuel tax is one part of that."

But Aucklanders won't just pay at the pump, says Mr Bonney.

"All your necessary groceries are going to get more expensive," he explained.

Auckland needs $1.6 billion a year to make progress, but the Council's budget allows for just $1 billion annually. A regional fuel tax will raise just $150 million towards that shortfall. 

Mr Goff will meet with central Government again this month, cap in hand. 

In the meantime Aucklanders can expect to see 9 percent more buses and 5 percent more trains at peak time during March as tertiary students head back to school.

In the long-term, Mr Goff wants better light rail and an attitude change toward transport. 

"Almost every car has a single occupant," he says. "How do we incentivise, maybe by T2 and T3 lanes, more people car sharing using apps for car sharing?"

Truckies say more rush-hour clearways and shifting parked cars to allow two-laning is helping, but anyone wanting the big rigs off the roads in peak times could be out of luck.

"It takes all of that time to actually service Auckland," says Mr Bonney. "And the manufacturing can't stop."

When the brake lights go on for his business and others, everyone slows down.