It's time an Aucklander made a confession to the rest of New Zealand. There is no good reason for you to pay an additional tax on petrol for our benefit. There really isn't.

The taxers are telling you the money will be spent on transport alternatives nationwide but if you can bear to dip into the Government Policy Statement issued this week, which hopes to guide national transport planning for the next 10 years, you will find the priorities are walking, cycling and public transport, "including in Auckland" or, "particularly in Auckland".

I know we go on and on about traffic congestion and you often see photographs of multi-lane motorways clogged with cars. But those photos are taken with a still camera, the truth is, the traffic is probably moving. Take it from one who commutes by car every day, the traffic is nearly always moving. Not fast, but fast enough to keep all those people in their cars.

Think about it. If the traffic was as bad as Aucklanders like to complain, why would they get back in their cars every morning? Jacinda Ardern of Mt Albert told you this week it was because they had little choice but that is another myth Aucklanders are putting across you.


This city has a perfectly adequate bus service. Dedicated bus lanes were painted on the roads sometime ago and they are working well. From every part of Auckland you can catch a bus to the city centre. If you live in Mt Albert you can also catch a train.

The problem is most Auckland commuters don't go to the city centre, and that is the problem the taxers are not telling you about. Because all their public transport plans, including the latest, "light rail", are oriented to the city centre. The only way public transport can work in a city such as Auckland is by convincing people to change vehicles along the journey and nobody wants to do that.

Mayor Phil Goff welcomed your additional fuel tax this week, saying he'd "had a gutsful" of travelling to and from work by car. That's humbug. He works in the city, he could catch a bus or train if he really wanted.

He thinks every Aucklander will be happy to pay the additional national fuel tax on top of the regional petrol tax his council has been given power to levy, and he might be right. Aucklanders presume they will benefit. Not many will have read the Government Policy Statement this week.

I have and it is deeply worrying in its possible impact on Auckland's congestion.

All revenue collected from road users through fuel taxes, licence fees and truck charges goes into a national fund that gets allocated fairly and dispassionately around the country by the NZ Transport Agency.

The policy statement is an explicit directive to the Transport Agency to spend less on main highways and motorways than it was previously planning to do, and allocate more to walking, cycling and public transport (especially in Auckland). Furthermore, the money it does allocate to roads is to directed to prioritise safety, not capacity.

Auckland's motorways have always run close to capacity. I am constantly amazed that despite the city's rising population, which must be putting more cars on the road every year, the time it takes me to drive to work has hardly changed in decades. I'm in awe of the motorway engineering that must be constantly just keeping up with the increasing traffic.

Yet we constantly hear Aucklanders complain that our infrastructure is not keeping pace with population. In point of fact, it is keeping pace, and it is time the rest of New Zealand were told so.

When I last wrote on this subject I said the Automobile Association had found travelling times were lower last year after the opening of the Waterview connection but the AA has since told me travelling times were back up to the previous year's levels by the end of the year. What is happening, I think, is that a natural equilibrium is at work.

Human beings will tolerate a certain travelling time and if the road capacity improves, the traffic will increase to the point the travelling time slows to the tolerable limit. The Transport Agency and its forebears, Transit NZ and the National Roads Board, have done superbly well to keep travelling times tolerable. No other Aucklander is admitting they are tolerable but if it wasn't many more of us would be taking buses and trains to the city.

If Aucklanders think their congestion is bad now, it is nothing to what it will be if this Government's intentions come to fruition. Auckland drivers have invited this folly with their pretended suffering and they alone should pay for it.