Aucklanders are spending close to 80 hours stuck in motorway traffic congestion each year, time that the AA describes as a "noose" around motorists' necks.

The Automobile Association is calling for a raft of initiatives to tackle the problem, including encouraging parents to send kids to school on foot or by bike to put a brake on the number of cars.

An AA Congestion Report released today picks apart the time Aucklanders spend moving at a glacial pace along the city's busiest routes.

It comes on the first official day of "March Madness", which is set to bring even more misery to the city's beleaguered commuters.


Latest figures show about 40,000 more cars jammed Auckland's roads in 2017 compared to the previous year.

Each motorist wasted an average 78.6 hours sitting in traffic, just on our motorways.

This equated to close to two full weeks of work for many Aucklanders - though most motorists would not be receiving pay cheques for the wasted hours behind the wheel.

Between the hours of 7am and 9am drivers were travelling at an average speed of 43km/h on Auckland motorways last year. This slowed even more on our arterial roads - where drivers were crawling at just 34km/h on average.

The AA's principal adviser Barney Irvine said congestion was "right at the top" of people's frustrations with city living.

"Congestion is worse in the evenings than it is in the mornings, and it's eating into our family time as we go home," he said.

According to the report, Auckland's congestion actually eased in 2017 - despite travel times jumping by 40-50 per cent on main motorways between 2012 and 2016.

Irvine said this could largely be attributed to the successes of the Waterview Tunnel.


"We all experience the benefits of Waterview," he said.

"I guess the happy surprise for us has been not just the size of those benefits but also the fact they're spread right around the network."

Auckland Transport and New Zealand Transport Agency figures broken released to the Weekend Herald last year revealed the dire prediction that one in three main roads would be congested by 2020.

The rapid pace and scale of Auckland's population growth - the city grew by 121,000 people, the size of Tauranga, in the past three years - is largely to blame.

The AA report includes a handful of smaller-scale initiatives, which the team wants to see Government and Auckland Council adopt to address the scale of the problem.

These included installing a smart traffic light system, setting firm congestion targets, delivering more park and ride bays and trialling different forms of congestion charges.

Irvine also suggested schools could play their part in making walking and cycling to school safer.

Removing barriers that prevent parents sending their kids to school on foot or by bike could help reduce car numbers on our roads.

Auckland Primary Principals' Association president Kevin Bush said he would support any type of scheme or project implemented by central Government to make this happen.

He saw the impact congestion had on both parents and students and noted school buses were increasingly late in delivering students to school, because of traffic.

Bush said a safe way to enable primary school students to avoid commuting by car was ramping up support for walking buses.

"But that does come down to parents volunteering to walk with those walking buses," he said.

Ironically, Bush said the traffic creating the issue made it too dangerous for many younger students to walk or ride to school unattended.

Deadline Express Couriers general manager Andrew Merrill said the increasing plight of congestion undermined the speed at which his business operated.

His drivers simply couldn't get around in a timely fashion, he said, and clients had to be 're-educated' as to what they could realistically expect.

The company had recently increased costs in order to protect the incomes of its drivers - all of whom were independent contractors.

"They can't fly - they're in the traffic like everyone else," Merrill said.

"It's all about communicating that to clients."

In a speech delivered last night focusing on Auckland's 10-year Budget and 30-year transport plan, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff called transport the "single most frustrating issue we have to face in Auckland".

Congestion was costing the city around $2 billion in lost productivity each year.

"It's frustrating and it is eating into our productivity."

Goff said the focus needed to be on public transport and utilising existing networks and cycling.