Cross-party support for road pricing

2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 23, 2017

Election campaigns usually emphasise policy differences between parties, however yesterday‘s Election 2017 Transport Summit was unique in that it highlighted critical common ground when it comes to the future of road transport in New Zealand.

“Hidden amongst the usual ideological debate over the need for government interventionism versus market-driven transport policies was a beacon of cross-party agreement – that the future must include road pricing mechanisms,” says Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley.

“All five parties represented at the Summit – Labour, Greens, National, New Zealand First and ACT – agreed that the time had come to use demand management through road pricing or congestion charging to alleviate the congestion in Auckland.”

Shirley said while the Government had been taking tentative steps in the direction of road pricing over the past couple of years, this degree of cross-party agreement created a real expectation amongst the transport sector that it would finally happen.

“Across the spectrum political support for the concept helps to provide certainty to the road transport industry and other road user groups that this is something they can now begin to plan for.”

A high proportion of peak time traffic in Auckland involved single-occupancy cars, and Shirley said road pricing could have a direct impact on this as it financially encouraged people to car pool or travel at different times of the day.

“As long as the system devised is fair and equitable across all road users, then the road transport industry is fully supportive of using pricing to help manage demand.

“This principle of user pays should be extended across all modes of transport so that investments can be made on true comparative advantage rather than on the whim of political parties‘ pet policies,” says Shirley.