A Road to Freedom: North West Auckland Needs a World-Class Tolling System

North West Auckland suffers an almost unbearable burden of traffic congestion. For far too long, the people of Kumeu, Helensville, and the entire North West have suffered the consequences of inadequate transport infrastructure, exacerbated by the rapid population growth in the region. It is time for a transformative solution. That is why ACT is proposing a World-Class Toll Roading System. This is the best option to liberate communities from the shackles of traffic jams.

The ever-expanding population in the North West has resulted in an exponential rise in the number of vehicles on our roads. Unfortunately, successive governments have failed to keep pace with this planned housing growth by providing adequate funding for transport infrastructure development. As a result, we find ourselves stuck in never-ending traffic, enduring long commutes, and wasting valuable time that could be spent with our families and contributing to our economy.

ACT’s proposal aims to supercharge road development and maintenance to build modern, efficient, and congestion-free road networks. This approach is based on a simple premise: those who use the roads should help fund their expansion and maintenance, allowing us to break free from the cycle of chronic underinvestment.

New Zealand currently has three toll roads: the Auckland Northern Gateway, the Tauranga Eastern Link, and the Tauranga Takitimu Drive. Penlink road north of Auckland will also be tolled when the new route is completed. Road tolling enables the road operator (in these cases, Waka Kotahi) to collect revenue that contributes to the planning, design, supervision, construction, maintenance, or operation of a new road. The decision on whether a new road can be tolled is based on several criteria, including whether there is a feasible, untolled alternative route available.

The three existing toll roads have delivered significant benefits for New Zealand drivers and the surrounding communities. Waka Kotahi’s operating report for the Northern Gateway Toll Road (NGTR), produced five years after opening, found that 80% of network traffic was using the toll road compared to free alternatives, exceeding predicted volumes. The tolled NGTR offers a distance saving of 5-6km and time saving of 8-10 minutes compared to the untolled route.

With 7.7 million vehicles on the route in 2022/23 that’s 1.23 million hours in saved travel time annually, translating into a monetary value of $33.6 million in benefits

The Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL) is also considered a success with a 3km distance saving and an average nine minutes in time saved, or up to fifteen minutes at peak times. With 4.5 million annual vehicle counts that’s at least 675,000 hours saved, with a value of $17.66 million. The new tolled road is also far safer.

Prior to the TEL being built the existing stretch of road had an average of 1.8 fatalities each year. In the six years after completion of the TEL there has been one fatality - or 0.17 in annual terms. Serious injuries have also dropped from 38 to one over the same time period, reflecting a significant reduction in crashes from a safer highway

It is crucial to recognize that a tolling system is not an end in itself but a means to a transformative goal - to reduce congestion and deliver us to our destination safely. ACT believes the status quo is unsustainable, and it is time to embrace innovative solutions that will propel North West Auckland into a future characterized by efficient transport, sustainable development, and improved quality of life.

A world-class tolling system, as proposed by ACT, is the most viable option to address the transport infrastructure deficit and pave the way for a brighter, more accessible future for North West Auckland. Together, let us embrace this transformative vision and take the first step towards reclaiming our roads and our freedom. Start by giving your Party Vote to ACT this election.

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