Monday 21 June 2021

New Zealand Parliament holds inquiry into congestion charging for Auckland

Yesterday, New Zealand's Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee started hearing submissions on proposals for congestion charging for the city of Auckland.  I am strongly in support of this, and have sent in a written submission and hope to present it virtually later this week. 

Written submissions can be found here and hearings are available via Facebook here including all of the submissions presented yesterday.  

Once all submissions have been considered, the Committee will present a report to Parliament with its recommendations.  A majority of Committee members belong to the ruling centre-left Labour Party, but it is worth noting that the other parties on the Committee (National (centre-right), Greens (left-environmentalist) and ACT (liberal-right))  have been supportive of congestion pricing, indeed the current work on congestion charging in Auckland commenced under the previous National-led government.  The officials papers are available here.

What has been recommended so far is a city-centre cordon during morning and evening peak periods, followed by strategic corridor charging on congested routes. It will be interesting to see how the Committee responds to submissions. It is led by a Wellington based Labour MP, Greg O'Connor, and deputised by former transport planner and Green MP, Julie Anne Genter.  I am cautiously optimistic that the momentum achieved so far in Auckland congestion pricing is not slowed down by the Committee process, and that it can be advanced, especially given the significant spending that has been made and continues to be made in upgrading Auckland's transport network, including a multi-billion dollar underground rail loop to increase the capacity of Auckland electric commuter rail network.  

Disclosure: I worked on both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of The Congestion Question project as a consultant for Milestone Solutions (then D'Artagnan Consulting).