The Auckland Smarter Transport Pricing Project is a joint project between Government and Auckland Council to investigate whether or not to introduce smarter transport pricing in Auckland to reduce congestion. Smarter transport pricing involves directly charging users for the use of roads, with charges potentially varying by time of day and/or location. The project will investigate different pricing options and test whether these could improve congestion results, taking into account the impact of these options on affected households and businesses.

At the end of the project, the Government and Auckland Council will have a clear understanding of the requirements and likely outcomes of an Auckland-specific smarter transport pricing system and be able to make decisions on whether to introduce smarter pricing.

Similar to ATAP, this is a joint project involving Auckland Council, the Ministry of Transport, Auckland Transport, the NZ Transport Agency, the Treasury and the State Services Commission. For more information see the Terms of Reference [PDF, 211 KB].

Background

In 2016, the Government and Auckland Council worked together to develop a clear direction for Auckland’s transport system over the next 30 years, through the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP). The full ATAP report can be found here [PDF, 2.2 MB].

ATAP found that, to achieve a step-change in the performance of Auckland’s transport system over the next 30 years, we need a fundamental shift to influencing travel demand, alongside substantial ongoing transport investment, and getting more out of the existing network.

In response to ATAP’s findings, the Government and Auckland Council have now established the Auckland Smarter Transport Pricing Project.

What is smarter transport pricing?

Currently, motorists pay for the use of roads through a range of methods: petrol taxes, road user charges, vehicle registration fees and rates. These charges don’t take into account the time or location of travel – for example, driving on a congested motorway in rush hour versus driving along a quiet road late at night. But the true costs of these two journeys are very different – driving at peak times adds to the congestion on the road, which impacts on (or has a ‘cost’ to) other road users. These costs impact both on the economy (for example, by adding to freight travel times) and at an individual level (meaning, for example, less time spent at home with family).

Smarter transport pricing could change this by varying what road users pay at different times and/or locations to better reflect where the cost of using the roads is higher (i.e. where there is congestion). This could encourage some users to change the time, route, or method of travel, or choose not to travel at all – this is known as demand management. The result is better use of the road network.