Another long weekend, another reminder to use an alternative to SH1 north of Auckland. The extension of the northern motorway to Puhoi, fine piece of engineering that it is, has done nothing for peak holiday traffic except move the queues up the road and introduce a new frustration for those who stop to pay the toll.

The New Zealand Transport Agency has installed a third payment machine at the petrol station on the motorway near Silverdale where drivers have the option of paying manually. It is strange that so many take that option when accounts can so easily be arranged on a website, or payments made by phone.

The Agency has not helped its preferred electronic tolling system with lapses in the security of its website accounts but even so, the number who pull up to pay $2 is astonishing. The Agency has installed a third machine temporarily for the Easter traffic but is considering making it a permanent fixture. It would do better to rethink the manual payment option entirely. Only the very old or indigent might be unable to pay by telephone or computer, and they are not likely to be driving far. Tourists or other one-off users who may be surprised by the toll could make an instant payment by cellphone. And if they are in rental vehicles the toll could be recovered by the company when they return it.

The extended Auckland motorway is this country's first experience of electronic tolling and the Transport Agency can be forgiven some teething errors. The off-road, manual payment system is one of them. The agency would do better to withdraw it and concentrate on ironing the bugs out of its internet accounts. The sooner all travellers are accustomed to modern tolling technology the sooner the motorway might be extended to Warkworth, clearing the holiday congestion.