Auckland Transport's stark warning after 51,000 people caught driving in restricted area of Queen Street

Residents have been given a stark warning from Auckland Transport (AT) after more than 50,000 people drove in a restricted area in Queen Street since the start of July. 

At the start of the year, construction began on a revamp of the CBD street which heavily prioritised walking and cycling over driving. 

On July 8, AT introduced an 'Essential Vehicle Area' on Queen Street between Wellesley Street and Wakefield Streets. It means private vehicles like cars, taxis and rideshare services can no longer use the area of road. 

But in a recent post on Twitter, AT revealed there has been widespread issues with compliance and warned a crackdown was imminent. 

"These changes came into effect on 8 July and we have issued over 51,000 warnings since then. From September 12, those who have already received a warning and continue to use the EVA area will be issued a $150 fine," Auckland Transport said. 

While private cars are banned, the area can still be used by essential vehicles, mopeds and bikes. 

The area was introduced by Auckland Council with Support from AT to reduce "unnecessary traffic while allowing essential vehicles to continue to service the area".

When announcing the new restrictions in June, Planning Committee chair Councillor Chris Darby said it would free up precious space along the street and make it safer and more pleasant 

"Auckland's city centre is the commercial powerhouse critical to the prosperity of Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa," Darby said. "Guided by the City Centre Masterplan, our goal is to regenerate the area to create a better connected, greener, and more prosperous place that we can all be proud of. 

"The introduction of the new Essential Vehicle Area for a small stretch of Queen Street is an important early step to make the Wai Horotiu Queen Street Valley more desirable for people who live, work, study and enjoy the city centre. 

"It is a signal that Auckland is moving past the days of Queen Street being a congested, polluted drive-through to a go-to destination. Essential vehicles maintain their access but private vehicles will navigate alternative routes to park and get around."