If the debate around tolling and Auckland's transport needs is anything to go by, New Zealand motorists are very uncomfortable with paying tolls - especially if it amounts to paying for roads that have already been built using road taxes.
Tolling is a way of charging motorists to fund the construction of a highway, road or bridge. It is sometimes considered as an option when there is a lack of funds, or to bring completion of a project forward.
Did you know?
The law requires a free alternative route to be available for motorists who don't want to pay the toll fee.
Some cities around the world are now tolling whole city centres, either to raise money or as a penalty charge to reduce congestion (often referred to as cordon charging).
In the past, tolls were collected manually from motorists at toll booths, but now there are electronic systems available that automatically charge a fee when a vehicle passes the tolling point. The fee is then invoiced to the vehicle owner.
The law requires all tolled sections of road to have a free alternative route available for motorists who don't want to use the tolled road and pay the toll.
AA speaking up for motorists
Conditional support for tolling of new roads
For new road construction projects that are outside the National Land
Transport Programme, or for new projects within the programme that are brought forward, the AA will support tolling if the following conditions are met:
- Tolls are not to be used on existing roads. Existing roads have already been paid for by road users through petrol tax, Road User Charges and other charges.
- Projects brought forward still receive their National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) allocation with the tolling element exclusively for early completion or improved features for road users; the project is of benefit to road users; and the toll is removed as soon as that element is fully paid.
- All revenue from a toll road is used to fund the development of the new road on which the toll is being collected, and for no other purpose.
- The level of the toll is reasonable, and is the minimum amount required to supplement the funding of the road, and there is no levying the toll to modify travel behaviour.
- The affected community is adequately consulted about the construction of the new road and the tolling measures to be used.
- At least 50% of the toll revenue collected is used to fund the capital cost of that road.
- The toll tariff is set to optimise utilisation of the built asset and surrounding network rather than maximise profits.
- A viable non-tolled alternative route is available and maintained by the responsible Road Controlling Authority.
- The toll collection methods are cost-effective, and the cost of any tolling equipment required for individual vehicles is fully paid for by the tolling authority.
- The tolling arrangements include a "sunset clause" which ensures the toll is completely lifted after the new road is paid for, or else the toll is relieved by the availability of conventional NLTF funding.
- No new tolled road is to replace a state highway until the toll on that road is completely lifted.
- The toll operator must regularly publish details on traffic flow, operating revenues (by source), costs and profits.
What AA Members are saying
When Auckland AA Members were polled regarding Transit NZ's proposal to toll the Western Ring Route, 51% opposed the proposal and 28% supported it. However, 21% either did not know or had no feeling either way.
The majority of AA Members preferred that the government fund the $800 million shortfall required to complete the Route by using the government surplus, or by borrowing the money and funding repayments from general taxation in a November 2006 Survey.