Auckland councillors have given their conditional support for congestion charging in the supercity, but say there remain a number of issues that will need to be addressed before it can be introduced.
And a number of them have stated their concerns about the impact it could have on people in lower socioeconomic areas like south Auckland, who could be hit harder by a toll on motorists during peak times.
Minister of Transport Michael Wood announced in December that Parliament's transport and infrastructure committee would undertake an inquiry into congestion pricing in Auckland.
It followed the release of a report by The Congestion Question, a joint Government-Auckland Council working group, on the issue last year.
The report said without congestion charging to get people out of their cars during peak times the city's gridlock would only get worse, despite billions of dollars of new infrastructure.
It highlighted two models that could be used in Auckland. One was a city centre cordon – where vehicles would be charged to enter the CBD during peak travel periods. The other option would be based on charging motorists using key arterial roads during peak times.
On Thursday, Auckland Council's planning committee debated the pros and cons of congestion charging and agreed to make a submission to the select committee inquiry.
But despite a number of councillors supporting it in principle, they agreed before it can be introduced there needs to be better public transport services and consideration given to how it will affect people in lower socioeconomic areas.
They also agreed that, if costs allow, congestion charging should be used to replace the city's regional fuel tax.
Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Ward councillor Josephine Bartley was one of five councillors who voted against the proposal.
She said there were still too many unanswered questions around congestion charging and how it would affect people on low incomes.
"I know there's talk about concessions for community service card holders, but it's also about the people in low paying jobs who aren't able to renegotiate their work hours to not work during peak hours," Bartley said.
"They aren't like us, they can't Skype into a meeting and work from home. I definitely want to see that work before I give my support for this."
Bartley said those most affected by congestion charging were less likely to be involved in any future consultation process.
Manurewa Ward councillor Daniel Newman had similar concerns and voted against the council giving its conditional support.
"I have a real problem with introducing a congestion charging system in Auckland," he said. "These choices aren't equitable and I think we have to address these issues and make sure we have the services in place first."
Newman said some of his constituents had already been hit hard by the regional fuel tax.
"It has had a disproportionate impact on some of our most vulnerable people," he said. "I believe there is an equity issue here that needs to be addressed before we can go down the path of congestion pricing."
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff agreed there were a number of issues that needed to be worked through and he did still have concerns.
"We're not supporting implementation because we don't know what some of the implications will be. But if you don't support it in principle you're wasting your time even making a submission," he said.
"Each time we've debated it we've agreed to take it to the next stage and this is the next stage. There's going to be quite a lot of change between now and when a legislative proposal is put forward."
But Goff said it was important the council retained the right to oppose congestion charging if and when it had more details.
He said it was vital any charges were fair and equitable and Auckland had the public transport services in place to provide people with real alternatives.
A report to the committee by council officers emphasised congestion charging was designed to provide people with an incentive to change their behaviour and not a means to gather revenue.
Auckland Council and Auckland Transport staff are now expected to work together to prepare a submission to the select committee.