Congestion charges little use without public transport

The release of the Auckland Road Pricing Evaluation Study today has once again highlighted the need for a high quality public transport system in Auckland, Green Party Associate Transport Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

The Ministry of Transport study explored a number of road pricing options for Auckland, including congestion charges within inner-city areas.

“New thinking on Auckland’s transport woes and moves to reduce congestion are always welcome, but implementing any of the report’s options before a fast, reliable public transport system is in place would be putting the cart before the horse, to use an old transport analogy,” Mr Locke says.

“There is little point in trying to reduce congestion with charges or tolls unless there is a viable public transport alternative available to drivers. Overseas experience shows that congestion charges can be very successful, but only when coupled with excellent public transport.

“Actually, the congestion charging as could make things worse if, as seems to be the case, it is mainly a way of financing new motorways. This is hardly the way to get Aucklanders out of their cars.

“The Parking Levy option in the study has some merit. The proposal for a levy on non-residential private parks might discourage inner city businesses from simply providing parking spaces and company cars for their employees, and instead encourage commuting via public transport.

“The need to find solutions to Auckland’s huge transport crisis becomes more urgent everyday, particularly in the light of the growing consensus around the dangers of peak oil and climate disruption. A good public transport system, in conjunction with charges if necessary, would not only reduce congestion, but also reduce needless fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is no point in pursuing a solution focussed mainly on what’s happening on our roads. I agree with Auckland Regional Council Chairman Michael Lee that public transport must come first,” Mr Locke says.