' />

Moves to include potential "congestion" levies on motorists in Auckland's long-range transport map have been bitterly opposed by regional councillors.

Although Aucklanders showed strong opposition three years ago to various charging proposals suggested by the Ministry of Transport as ways of getting them out of their cars, the idea is being canvassed again by officials working on a new 30-year regional land transport strategy.

A report to the regional council's transport committee yesterday said an assessment of various strategic options for encouraging greater use of public transport concluded that "congestion pricing" had the potential to make a significant contribution to achieving national policy targets.

It added a strong caveat, saying the concept was not feasible without offering motorists realistic travel options, particularly in terms of public transport services.

Careful consideration of "equity issues" would be needed, the report said.

But that was not enough to allay fears of several councillors, including chairman Mike Lee, that even the mere mention of the idea in the strategy risked helping it gain momentum which may be difficult to stop.

Mr Lee said certain "vested interests" were working behind the scenes on a concept that would deliver revenue to the private sector at the expense of working people who would have to pay more to travel to their jobs in the absence of public transport of an international standard.

"I believe this road pricing option, which the Ministry of Transport has insisted on despite being rebuffed again and again, is a case of manufacturing consent," he said.

"Behind the scenes, outside this debating chamber, a group of officials is working on this which has no special interest in what groups like us have to say on the matter. This is an insidious case of vested interests getting a piece of the action."

Transport committee chairwoman Christine Rose said initially that although she could support a resolution of opposition by the regional council to road pricing, she believed the idea should at least be included in the strategy among possible long-term economic instruments "even if it is unacceptable".

Road tolls were already a reality in the Auckland region, and there would always be inequities in the transport system, including a disproportionate impact by fuel prices on people with limited means.

But strategic policy committee chief Paul Walbran said overseas cities where road charges had been introduced had public transport infrastructure "orders of magnitude better than ours", and the concept would be neither fair nor sustainable for Aucklanders.