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How Auckland Will Pay For It - City Rail Link - AKT

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





  1. James says:

    Congestion Charging is a good way! Have people taking their car into the cbd area paying like $2 and trucks even more and have for people living in the CBD a special rate. And maybe even on the extreme which someone once suggested to me: toll people going over the Harbour Bridge. (sounded a bit extreme to me as we dont have a seconded crossing but it might help people to take the bus..)

  2. Wasp says:

    If they want to fund raise regional petrol tax is the only way to go. There are no toll monitoring mechanisms required, the money comes simply, efficiently and quietly every time fuel is put in.

    And if we are going to toll the Harbour bridge so that people use the bus then why not toll every other road in Auckland too just so they can join in the fun of buses as well.

  3. tbird says:

    Umm, who does the hipster douchebag in the aviators expect to pay for him? Other people?

  4. Matt L says:

    I don’t like the idea of congestion charging as much of the congestion around Auckland isn’t to the CBD but people passing through i.e. people live on the shore but work in Ellerslie, it also would have the impact of pushing development to just outside the charging cordon which isn’t what we would want. I much prefer a network charge with a small fee to enter/exit the motorway network or pass other strategic points

  5. Chris R says:

    CBD Tail Link?

    Quicker trips between brothels?

  6. Scott says:

    tbird, perhaps he just isn’t going to cross, or is happy to go the long way around.

    Im all for congestion charging, but a cordon system would be inappropriate for auckland. CBD traffic is not that bad, it’s other areas that have major issues. There are plenty of other congestion charging systems we could consider.

    I think we should also consider some of the following:
    - Curb cut tax/duty (perhaps $5 per 10cm of curb cut per year, discouraging people from having double width access-ways)
    - Tax on CBD parking spaces.
    - Charge for popular park and rides. It will be establish a more optimum allocation of the scarce resource.
    -Chimney rate, encourage removal of wood fires, to improve urban air quality.
    -automated bus lane enforcement - fine revenue
    - Red light cameras to catch those that stop in the center of intersections - does the council get the revenue?
    - Auckland car tax - require cars to be used in auckland to pay tax, for example $200 per year or $4 per day for visitors - This would be inefficient (as its per car not per distance) but would raise a lot of revenue (and be controversial).

  7. Patrick R says:

    Folks, there’s plenty of money in the national transport pot, it’s just that one greedy sector wants it all. 20 billion for new transport infrastructure over the next 10 years; only the insane imbalance currently being forced on us means there isn’t 1 billion of that already earmarked for this transport Project of National Significance.

    No need for novelties to raise even more money; just rational policy.

  8. Jon R says:

    True, the funding is there. It is only the National Party and Steven Joyce who are obsessing over spending nearly all of it on highways into country towns.

  9. tbird says:

    Scott, if that’s the case then a more appropriate wording is “I am not going to cross if I am expected to pay for my own transport costs”. And it’s a long way from your Grey Lynn flat to your parents’ home on the Shore if you’re going via the Upper Harbour! I guess he’ll get mum to top up the tank.

    Regarding the actual blog post:
    I’m not sure that we have the population for congestion charging, where would we do this? The Auckland CBD isn’t actually that congested. Plus it’s going to be pretty unpopular amongst Aucklanders (and others travelling through). By the sounds of things it’s difficult enough to enforce the toll road up around Orewa.

    For many of these options, we’ll need technology to read number plates (I know this exists) and quickly charge it to the person the car is registered to. They should have the same system for all the nation’s toll roads/congestion charges.

    Allow people to manage it completely online. Pay your outstanding fees, and perhaps pre-purchase travel for a discount. The login/password could be assigned/made when you licensed the vehicle. Send a hard copy invoice when the charges get to $50 or something, so the oldies can play their part. The vehicle plate scanners can flag out stolen cars, and have a cop chase them to sort it out.

    My expectation though is that Aucklanders will pay for their own transport. I don’t think those of us living up here should be subsidised by the rest of the country.

  10. Matt L says:

    “My expectation though is that Aucklanders will pay for their own transport. I don’t think those of us living up here should be subsidised by the rest of the country.”

    What makes you think we are subsidised by the rest of the country already, while at the moment we are getting quite a bit of transport investment, if you look at it over a long time we are still likely behind in the funding stakes meaning overall we have helped subsidise the rest of the country. If you look at it from a total funds view (not just transport), Auckland has about 33% of the population yet only gets about 31% of all government funding (this is from the governments own submission on the discussion document).

  11. Matt says:

    This still amazes me - “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””

    It seems to me the Prime Minister is anti-Auckland. How could the government of the day not take on the wishes of the country’s primary city?

    How could any government in NZ not support improvements to Auckland’s rail system? How could any government not know what electrification does to ridership and demand? How could any government not understand the benefits of not having a terminus, but having a through route?

    If what everyone else considers a no-brainer, they can’t see, what does that say about them?

    We should go really, really hard on National for not supporting the CBD loop. Just on that issue alone they don’t deserve to be in government… and the 101 other reasons.

  12. Patrick R says:

    Matt the thing is that they don’t believe that ‘their people’ support it. It’s that simple; they do these silly games of characterising voters, you know; ‘soccer moms’ etc. And the National voter aspires to being a [male] BMW driving golf bore with a bach at Omaha.

    It’s a fine line but a calculated one; the anti-Ak tone is a conscious decision. Like Key’s non use of any Maori greeting at the world cup opening; a calculated play to the heartland voter. Clever buggers the PR firm [Aussies: Crosby Textor] especially the way they got Key to say that he didn’t think about it; see he’s just like us- unthinkingly unsophisticated. They must have been scratching their their heads for years to find a way to appeal to the Orewa speech audience without appearing like an out and out racist. Bingo! RWC speech…. same with the CRL; it’s a calculated PR decision, they are a little uncertain though, allowing Nikki Kaye to dissent is useful and saying that it will happen one day also muddies the sense of their opposition.

    But that Key has come straight out and said no means that they believe there are more votes in opposing it.

    Is he wrong?

  13. Harry McDonald says:

    tbird; The rest of the country subsidising Auckland? Auckland money has been building South Island roads for decades - usually in National Party electorates. I recall the government trumpeting that the lion’s share of fuding for a particular year was going to Auckland - 26%! Auckland pays 34% of the tax take.
    We have been underfunded for years.

  14. James says:

    Why not let all the trees be planted by volunteers. That already safes labour costs. Maybe hold Auckland Lottery where people can buy tickets like the lottery and then win some prizes and the money made can be used to carry out these fantastic plans. It may sound weird and dumb but all money counts!

  15. Matt says:

    I agree Patrick R - I have no doubt Key’s RWC Opening speech was especially designed to deliver the racist vote to National. Crosby-Textor kept Howard PM in Australia for years by shamelessly appealling to the racist vote (and for those following Aussie politics, the ALP has lost its soul trying to match Liberals thinking that the racist vote matters).
    I wouldn’t have put National’s anti-Auckland stance as a deliberate ploy to keep the bumpkin vote but I guess they play politics like they are in a giant Machiavellian game so maybe there is something to that Patrick. I thought it was just dogmatically ideological, which is their other trait.

  16. Patrick R says:

    Sorry to be getting off topic a bit here but I just want to suggest to Matt that I think properly viewed one of the interesting things about National is they they aren’t really that ideological; more sort of ad hoc and in thrall to special interest groups. Take water policy for example, you could argue that Green policy is [pricing water] is more neoliberal than National’s, which is simply good old state welfare for already entrenched country interests.

    This makes them a little inconsistent but also more flexible. They don’t really have an intellectual wing, and this is probably a strength; no need to defend things that have become unpopular; just change the story. And, of course, they’re more interested in power than in doing the right thing.

    So yes AK could get funding for say the CRL from National in theory, but that would involve separating them from some pretty close friends in the road lobby. Remember Joyce is their bag man, ie their head fundraiser so he has, personally, probably made some pretty specific promises to some big party donors……

    For those of us that can see how transformative this project will be for Ak, how positive, we really need to think about how to send National a very clear message about how important it is for so many of us. That’s all.

  17. kel says:

    “I refuse to pay to get across”

    Then swim! No one should have to pay for you…

  18. Ingolfson says:

    “allowing Nikki Kaye to dissent”

    Dissent on what? On not liking the latest menu change in her Ponsonby cafe?

    Nikki Kaye has dissented from govrnment policies exactly once during her whole election period - a highly calculated “I am against mining in conservation land [because my PM told me I can be against it without losing my safe list seat" so-called dissent.

    Otherwise, she has been AWOL from her pro-public transport policies since she got elected.

    And on another subject:

    "Then swim! No one should have to pay for you…"

    Hey Kel, you used several footpaths today, how about you pay up? Why should *I* have to pay for YOU using footpaths built with MY taxes and rates? [Or: Not everything should be user-pays]


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