The Government appears to be coming around to user-pays charges, such as a motorway toll, to tackle Auckland's chronic traffic congestion and population growth.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges yesterday told the Herald a joint approach between the Government and Auckland Council to develop the city's transport system could lead to new funding tools.
"These things are possible but it's too early to say."
He said the Government would need to have confidence on an aligned strategy for Auckland before it would consider new funding tools.
"We accept over time that strong demographic growth [in Auckland] and its footprint on New Zealand is going to require additional funding.
"Just how that is funded in terms of public, private, council, central government is too early to say."
The minister was speaking at the signing of the terms of reference for a year-long transport project conducted by local and central government officials and overseen by Finance Minister Bill English, Mr Bridges and Auckland Mayor Len Brown.
It follows years of disagreement between Wellington and Auckland about the best way to tackle transport problems and successive transport ministers ruling out tolls or a fuel tax.
Mr Bridges said the Government was open to trialling demand management options, such as tolls, but not just to generate revenue.
Mr Brown said reaching an agreed transport investment programme for Auckland would pave the way for discussions on alternative funding.
It would be a big step for the Government and the council to introduce something like a motorway toll, but it would reduce congestion and pressure on rates and debt.
The Government's refusal to allow a motorway toll in the new 10-year budget resulted in the council introducing an interim three-year transport targeted rate of $114 a household.
Mr English said an extra 700,000 people were expected to live in Auckland by 2045 and long-term solutions for Auckland's transport system were central to ensuring it remains a great place to live and do business in.
"This population growth means Auckland will need another 400,000 houses over this timeframe, and transport infrastructure is key to delivering this," Mr English said.
The Automobile Association, Auckland Business Forum and Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) welcomed progress on the joint transport project.
Forum chairman Michael Barnett said he hoped it would end Auckland-Wellington feuding over the city's transport priorities.
EMA chief executive Kim Campbell said the city was struggling to cope with growth, 7000 new cars were registered every month, and there was a compelling case for more transport spending.
Labour's Auckland issues spokesman Phil Goff said aligning central and local government policy should have happened years ago, avoiding what will now be a further 12-month delay.
• Government and council make progress for agreeing joint transport priorities.
• Could pave the way for a motorway toll.
• Simon Bridges says agreement is needed first.
• Len Brown says tolls would reduce congestion and pressure on rates.
Hats off to the power of magic
Blink and you'll miss it.
One of the world's hottest acts in magic has touched down in New Zealand for the first time. Australian magician, illusionist and escape artist Cosentino is giving two live shows in Auckland and Wellington.
The 32-year-old has become hugely popular following his television show of the same name - Twisted Reality - which regularly shows him performing fun and often death-defying street magic.
His escape acts have seen him being compared with the great Harry Houdini and he has won several top awards for his work over the years, including International Magician of the Year in 2013.
Cosentino - real name Paul Cosentino - gave media in Auckland yesterday a sneak preview of his first show, to be held at the Civic Theatre tomorrow.
He has two shows there tomorrow and one at the St James Theatre, in Wellington, on September 2.
For more information visit www.cosentino.com.au.