How Auckland Will Pay For It
The grand draft Auckland Plan envisages new infrastructure such as a CBD Rail Link and harbour tunnel as essential – but once again comes the thorny issue of when the crunch comes, will Aucklanders pay and if so, how.
The Prime Minister was once again reported today pouring cold water on the Government coming to the party on the rail link “any time soon” and continuing the Government tune that it’s the Auckland Council and its ratepayers and citizens who will have to adopt innovative ways to fund such schemes.
The Plan canvasses the options and motorway congestion charges – or whatever is decided- would be implemented around 2016.
The draft Auckland Plan sees the most appropriate target date for introducing a new form of transport revenue such as road network pricing is seen as when the new electric trains start (listed as not 2013 but 2014-15) and Waterview Tunnel is opened (2016/17).
Funding mechanisms that seem most favoured for consideration are tolls, road pricing, increases in parking charges and levies or increases in passenger fares that “reflect service quality and reliability improvements.” On the latter, it argues that the improvements passengers fund will ultimately lead to a better transport system for everyone.
“Transport improvements over the 30-year period must be agreed by Auckland Council and central government and must benefit users and those who contribute funding.
“It’s likely a different mix of funding mechanisms will be used for different projects. This work will be done jointly by the various planning and delivery agencies. Again council and central government will have to agree to any such new funding packages.”
The Plan considers other options:
Private private partnerships are considered a form of procurement rather than a funding mechanism. The downsides are listed as being complex and costly.
Regional fuel tax (which Auckland was suppose to have had) can lead to distortions at the borders of the region with motorists driving over the boundary to fill up. Another problem is they would charge all road users regardless of the costs that each road-user creates meaning road users who drive outside peak times still subsidise peak time drivers. Anyway, it sounds academic as the transport minister is reviewing the Land Transport Management Act potentially removing a provision for such fuel taxes being possible.
Road pricing which includes tolls congestion charging and network pricing is considered a viable option and can change behaviour.
Congestion charging has been used successfully in some cities but Auckland Council would have to consider a number of factors. The best approach would be to initially price congested destinations that are already well served by public transport. Discounts, entitlements or exemptions could be a way to increase mobility. “Congestion pricing is premise don taking private motor vehicle mobility as a free good away and then allowing the driver to buy that mobility back. Therefore a scheme should in principle have as few discounts or exemptions as possible in order to maximum the potential congestion reduction.” On areas where public transport options are limited it says a “wider suite of options for those motorists with little or no access to public transport is desirable.’
Network charging such as charging vehicles to join the motorway network is not currently permissible. If legislated, the level of charge would be calculated to both optimise revenue and manage demand to create free flow traffic on motorways.
Value Uplift levy, used in Melbourne is also raised. This is a payment designed to reserve for community use part of the uplift in land value. It differs from a capital gains tax as it’s charged only once when the property changes hands after upzoning.
Local sales taxes are dismissed as not having government support along with more admin burdens and undermining GST
And here’s where the money is needed for transport -
It’s a debate that needs to be had now and ended soon.
In the past when people finally are having to commit to achieving their dream plans, such debates get messy and break into the historical Auckland factions which go nowhere.
How Auckland will look by 2040
Plans for Auckland’s Waterfront
What the Plan says about Transport
Taming Auckland’s landscape – what the Plan says
Read Auckland Plan