The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) says the introduction of congestion charging on the Auckland roading network would deliver significant economic and social benefits and should be progressed with urgency by the incoming government and Auckland Council.
The EMA’s Head of Advocacy, Strategy and Finance Allan McDonald says chronic congestion is costing the Auckland economy more than one billion dollars every year and is impacting the liveability of New Zealand’s largest city.
“Increasing congestion is holding Auckland back. It makes doing business harder, increases travel times for workers, slows the movement of goods and services and results in lost productivity,” says McDonald.
“It also impacts where people are willing to live and work, distorting the housing and labour market, and results in increased carbon emissions as vehicles sit idling in traffic.
“We know from work done by the Ministry of Transport that the introduction of congestion charging would have a major impact on congestion in the city, making travelling on Auckland roads similar to driving during the school holidays all year round.
“In Stockholm, the introduction of congestion charging in 2006 resulted in a marked reduction in congestion, reducing the city’s traffic by 22% over the next decade despite the population increasing 10%.
McDonald says that successfully addressing Auckland’s congestion would help support increased economic activity by making it much easier to move around the city during peak times.
“An NZIER report, commissioned by the EMA in 2017, found that decongesting the Auckland network would deliver up to $1.3 billion to the Auckland economy,” says McDonald.
“Since that time, we know that congestion has only worsened, meaning the economic benefits would be much greater than was calculated when the report was originally commissioned.
“The roading network is already trying to operate above capacity at peak times, and Aucklanders are experiencing much worse congestion than those living in other comparable cities, such as Adelaide and Brisbane. We are spending too much time sitting in traffic when we could be doing other things.
“We agree with Mayor Brown that congestion charging is a simple and effective solution that has been proven to improve traffic flows during peak times. It needs to be introduced, alongside continued investment in roading infrastructure and improvements in other traffic management measures so that people can move freely around the city 24/7.
“But we also need to invest in improvements to our public transport network, so people have an efficient and cost-effective alternative to using their car during peak times.
“With the population forecast to continue to grow quickly, we need to act now or risk the city grinding to a halt.”