To Toll or not to Toll Centre City Roads

In this city that has more cars than it does registered drivers any issue associated with our love of our car is a contentious one. So, it was no surprise when most of the recommendations published this week for funding the transport funding gap over the next 20 years attracted some pretty alarming comments.

The prospect of having to pay a toll to use our motorway network has raised some hackles.

Here at Heart of the City we have submitted over many years about the inadequacy of rates to fund cities. Most of the cities we look to compete with have a wider range of funding tools beyond rates. Some charge local sales taxes, some receive GST, there are also road tolls and a variety of targeted rates to fund local projects. The list goes on.

Even with the existing $39 billion transport budget over the next 20 years congestion in Auckland is projected to increase.

So, one thing is as clear as the nose on our face - doing nothing is just not an option.

It is for this reason that we are supporting further investigation of a wider range of funding sources for Auckland. It is our view that we build too much transport infrastructure for inefficient peak traffic. For example, 80% of the vehicle traffic in the AM and PM peaks of the Harbour Bridge is single occupancy vehicles. A toll on single occupancy vehicles is proven to reduce this inefficiency and would prolong the life of this asset.

… and of course, because all roads (and rail and ferry and trains) tend to lead to the central city these issues always take on a heightened importance for us here in the city centre.

It’s complicated but in principle we here at Heart of the City are continuing to advocate for a wider range of revenue sources for local government that not only raise revenue to fund the transport gap but also increase the efficiency of our existing transport infrastructure.

We are always interested in the views of you, our members, so if you have any opinions on this issue please let us know so we can take these into account in the work we are doing with Council and Government on this much vexed issue.

- Alex