Wellington Scoop

Regional Council welcomes report recommending congestion charging

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
The Regional Council is welcoming the release of The Price is Right, a policy paper which argues for congestion charging to help manage growing peak time urban traffic snarl-ups which the report says costs the country more than a billion dollars each year.

Congestion charging has been successfully trialled in many cities targeting higher road users at peak times in overcrowded routes.

The report, written for the NZ Initiative by Dr Patrick Carvalho, focuses on the impact of congestion charging, asserting that “without proper road user pricing, congestion is becoming the new normal in our urban centres, costing the economy over a billion dollars every year”

Regional council chair Daran Ponter believes the case for congestion charging should be publicly debated, in an environment where local authorities lack the wherewithal to effectively tackle the impact of rising congestion.

“Local authorities have few tools to manage congestion, which is costing our communities both financially and environmentally.

“Unless we find smart ways to unlock congestion, it will get much worse and its consequences more significant.

“If Government forecasts that New Zealand’s total vehicle kilometres travelled might increase by as much as 66% by 2040, our region will slowly grind to a halt.”

Cr Ponter also agrees with the report’s contention that introducing congestion charges can encourage commuters to find trip alternatives, such as other travel times, routes and transport modes.

“The gold standard for public transport policy is mode shift: providing the right environment and incentives for people to take the bus or train rather than private cars, half of which are wasteful sole occupant commutes.

“If congestion pricing can help us achieve that, we’d welcome the opportunity to discuss it with the Government.

“But as a regional council, our interest in mode shifting is broader than that of the NZ Initiative’s focus on congestion. Emissions from the national vehicle fleet are the nation’s biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. While economic cost and productivity are important, the clear and present danger is climate change.

“Congestion charging is a useful tool. But it must be seen as another option in reducing harmful emissions rather than an end in itself.”

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  1. Pam, 5. November 2019, 23:36

    Congestion in a country of 3 million? Sorry 4 million, sorry now 5 million and counting!
    All comes down to immigration policies Our Kiwi life style is now being severely impacted by a population explosion.
    A 20% increase in population in 5 years has to be seriously questioned and given the poor quality of the census data likely under represents the true population growth. Are we looking to be Hong Kong??

  2. glenn, 6. November 2019, 7:04

    I would have thought, to even consider a congestion charge, then ratepayers should be able to use a decent public transport system … oh that’s right, we don’t have one. How about fixing one thing at a time.

  3. Carl S, 6. November 2019, 8:20

    A congestion tax does not reduce traffic congestion or emissions.
    The GWRC should have been abolished. Taxing people even more when they are already paying heaps to drive to work will not make the traffic flow. This is especially true in a city with a failed public transport system. This is a distraction from the GWRC public transport blunders.

  4. Paul, 6. November 2019, 8:50

    Fix the Bus problem and a large chunk of the congestion will disappear.
    Leave the bus mess and it will just be another income stream.

  5. Conor Hill, 6. November 2019, 9:09

    To fund good quality buses you need money. Congestion charging is a much more sensible place to get it than rates.

  6. Matty H, 6. November 2019, 10:05

    A congestion tax is a terrible idea. The Council just bought a new fleet of “good quality” diesel buses.
    Last thing this Council needs is more income for more unneeded vanity projects. The further disproportionate gouging of the people of Wellington … as though the constant rates hikes aren’t enough of a punitive action on us for the Council’s mismanagement.

  7. Ruth, 6. November 2019, 10:31

    I’m in the Eastern suburbs. Sort the bus shambles and provide a better alternative to all those airport taxis and congestion will almost disappear!

  8. TrevorH, 6. November 2019, 13:02

    @ Pam. You are exactly right. Excessive immigration and failing infrastructure are the elephant in the room. This is compounded by the Genter veto.

  9. PCGM, 6. November 2019, 19:31

    Getting people to change behaviour – which, after all, seems to be the point of the proposal – is generally a matter of providing both carrots and sticks. A well-functioning and cheap public transport network would be a good carrot, and a congestion charge might then be a worthwhile stick. But it’s hard to get keen about the GWRC’s idea when there’s no guarantee that the extra revenue from a congestion charge would actually go towards decreasing fares on public transport, which is one of the things that could provide an incentive for people to leave the car at home.

    And that leaves aside the obvious problem – since the bustastrophe, GWRC have effectively turned a carrot (a functional bus network) into a stick (a shambles). Should we really trust the same group of under-skilled regional council transport planners with implementing a complex congestion charging system, and risk the same disaster all over again?

  10. Ross Clark, 7. November 2019, 3:27

    How well does congestion charging work in somewhere like Singapore? Even with its superb public transport network, people still pay a fortune to own a car, never mind run one.

  11. Dave, 7. November 2019, 22:16

    @Pam. 20 percent in five years? Not sure how you figure that. In 2014 we had 4.54M and now we are 4.8M. About 5.8 percent increase.

  12. steve doole, 8. November 2019, 10:21

    60,000 fewer vehicles a day is quite a big impact isn’t it Carl ? London is a much more pleasant city to walk about in now.

  13. Conor, 8. November 2019, 15:50

    Ross – That’s kind of the whole point. Singapore has congestion charging, and other revenue streams from car owners. They then fund high quality Public Transport. Most people can then get around cheaply and easily if they want to. After all cities are about people, and city transport systems should be too.

  14. Kelly M, 8. November 2019, 18:20

    More like an increase in congestion of taxis and private hire vehicles. “At a time of growing economic hardship, the charge increases living costs and damages city life and commerce. It is an invasive, punitive, parasitic, time-consuming burden which has even failed to ease congestion” – commuter quote on London’s congestion tax.

  15. Traveller, 8. November 2019, 20:33

    Kelly M: Official figures show the congestion tax is working well in London: In 2006, Transport for London (TfL) reported that the charge reduced traffic by 15% and congestion – the extra time a trip would take because of traffic – by 30%. This effect has continued to today. Traffic volumes in the charging zone are now nearly a quarter lower than a decade ago. I was in London last year and the difference is enormous.
    Carl. The report (from 2013) to which you link quotes official figures that the congestion tax has reduced congestion in London.