Greater Wellington 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 the report says costs the country more than a billion dollars each year.
Congestion charging has been successfully trilled 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”
Greater Wellington 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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