Is this the way to solve Auckland's traffic woes?

A joint transport strategy report released by the council and the Government yesterday said a dedicated project should develop 'smarter transport pricing'. Photo / 123rf.com
A joint transport strategy report released by the council and the Government yesterday said a dedicated project should develop 'smarter transport pricing'. Photo / 123rf.com

Aucklanders will have to pay to drive at peak times if the city is to overcome its growing traffic problems, says outgoing Auckland mayor Len Brown.

A joint transport strategy report released by the council and the Government yesterday said a dedicated project should develop 'smarter transport pricing' for implementation within the next ten years.

Brown said this meant a specific focus on congestion charges.

"To reduce congestion, Aucklanders need to make different choices about how to travel and at what time of day. Demand management is crucial to achieving this.

"Road pricing offers Auckland a fairer means of funding transport than over-reliance on property rates. Any revenue raised must go to improvements into the transport system."

The report also gave a green light to a busway on the Northwestern Motorway from Westgate to Te Atatu over the next decade.

The first phase of the Northwestern Motorway, more electric trains and extending rail electrification to Pukekohe are among an indicative package of projects for priority funding.

Finance Minister Bill English, Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Auckland Mayor Len Brown today released a joint report which sets out a strategy for the development of Auckland's transport system over the next 30 years.

For the past year, the council and the Government have been working together on the strategy through the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP).

Other projects on the 10-year horizon are new and upgraded roads for new housing, motorway improvements to address congestion and upgraded access to Auckland Airport from the east.

In a statement, Finance Minister Bill English said that over the past 15 years, the Government and Auckland Council's combined annual transport investment in Auckland has increased from $500 million to $2.1 billion.

"This has allowed us to keep pace with the challenges which have stemmed from strong population growth.

"However, Auckland's population is set to grow by 700,000 people in the next 30 years and our findings show congestion is set to get worse under current plans. It's essential that we prioritise new and better infrastructure to deliver value for money and addresses these challenges," English said.

Bridges said the strategy concluded that to achieve a step change in the performance of Auckland's transport system "we need to move towards smarter network pricing alongside significant and ongoing investment to support growth and a much greater focus on getting more throughput on the existing network".

"While extra investment is needed to address the most pressing transport challenges facing Auckland, the report makes the case that we can't build our way out of the problem in the long-run. This is neither affordable nor cost-effective for taxpayers and ratepayers."

"Targeted ongoing investment is just one of three essential parts to develop Auckland's transport system. Making better use of the existing network and influencing transport demand are equally important.

"Technology also has the potential to play a critical role in influencing travel demand. Emerging transport technology is fundamentally reshaping the way transport is provided and used. It is important that we make sure Auckland and the rest of New Zealand is well positioned to take full advantage of these opportunities," Bridges said.

"The Government will now work with Auckland Council to consider this ambitious, strategic approach."

- NZ Herald

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