Auckland Mayor, Wayne Brown says any future congestion charging regime could not be a “revenue grab” but part of a more strategic approach to managing Auckland’s transport system through technology and integrated networks.
For now, he says the concept is simply a distraction from the immediate issues of dealing with Auckland Council’s $270 million budget hole and the city’s public-transport crisis.
The Mayor was commenting ahead of today’s special parliamentary debate on the report of the Transport and Infrastructure Committee on its Inquiry into Congestion Charging.
“Congestion charging could only make sense once every Aucklander has the option of catching a bus or a train that they know will show up on time, every time – and we are two years away from that, at the very least,” Mayor Brown said.
“Auckland’s immediate transport focus is solving our public-transport crisis by getting our existing public-transport services back into a credible state, including through the shake-up at Auckland Transport (AT).
“If Wellington-based politicians want to help Aucklanders, they need to let more bus drivers into the country and deliver faster funding for important public-transport projects, most especially the Northwestern and Eastern busways that Aucklanders want given the success of the Northern Busway.
“Congestion charging might be a useful tool in the future if integrated with an operational public-transport system, but right now is just a distraction from addressing the immediate crisis we face.”
In recent weeks, AT has cancelled 1,000 bus services because of the national bus driver shortage.
The Mayor acknowledged it was good to see Parliament planning ahead for when Auckland has a functioning public-transport network.