Smarter transport pricing on its way

This blog post was written by Paul Buetow, a partner at Kensington Swan specialising in  construction and infrastructure law.

Dynamic Auckland

Late last week the ATAP (Auckland Transport Alignment Project) final report was released. The ATAP process has focused on central and local government working together to assess Auckland’s transport issues and how to respond to them. This alignment is critical to addressing Auckland’s ever increasing congestion problems. One of the fundamental findings in the report in that Auckland’s transport problems cannot be solved solely through new infrastructure investment (assuming that sufficient funding can be found). In addition, better management of the existing network is required, together with a greater focus on the demand side of how we use our infrastructure:

We need to better balance transport demand with the capacity of our infrastructure and services. This requires a fundamental shift to a greater focus on influencing travel demand through smarter transport pricing, and accelerating the update and implementation of new technologies, alongside substantial ongoing transport investment, and getting more out of our existing network.

ATAP proposes addressing congestion through a congestion tax on travel on Auckland’s roads on a per km basis in place of other forms of taxation (primarily petrol taxes) within the Auckland Isthmus. However, how this will be done, how funding will be addressed, and how political and equity issues will be resolved still need to be determined.

One of the recommendations of report is the early establishment of a dedicated project to progress smarter transport pricing, with a view to implementation within the next 10 years. It is good that attention has turned to managing demand on Auckland’s roads. However, we can hopefully move faster than the 10 year period noted in the report. A lot of work is required before road pricing can be implemented in Auckland, but we can learn from experiences overseas – particularly in Sweden and Singapore. Addressing the issue will require political champions, consultation, legislative change and considerable work, but it is vital that this is done sooner rather than later to prevent Auckland’s transport congestion steadily worsening as its population continues to grow.

There is also of course the issue of how to integrate Auckland’s transport planning with land use, but that’s a topic for a future blog.

For more information on the report please click here.

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