16 Dec 2019

National proposes to scrap Auckland's regional fuel tax, start congestion charge

1:20 pm on 16 December 2019

The National Party wants to repeal the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax and start a congestion charge instead.

Caucas run.

National Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop Photo: RNZ/Rebekah Parsons-King

The Opposition has released its Transport and Infrastructure discussion document this afternoon, which includes an overhaul of how public transport decisions are made in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

National has long been a vocal opponent to the Auckland Regional Fuel tax, ever since it was first introduced by the government.

Under the proposals, National will not increase fuel taxes in its first term and get rid of Auckland's regional fuel tax.

Instead, it will introduce a revenue-neutral congestion charge in major cities to help manage the flow of traffic.

"By charging for travelling at certain times and/or on certain routes it encourages commuters to find alternatives, such as travelling earlier or later, taking a different route or getting out of the car and taking public transport," the document said.

The party would also introduce an Auckland Performance Auditor, which it said would be used to increase accountability and transparency of Auckland Transport.

Its Local Government (Auckland) spokesperson Denise Lee said a performance auditor would increase the ability of councillors to influence the strategic direction of organisations like Auckland Transport, Ports of Auckland, Watercare and Panuku Development.

"It would ensure council-controlled organisations are providing high-quality services in a cost-effective way, review the adequacy and relevance of their Statements of Intent and performance targets, and provide support during quarterly and annual performance reviews," she said.

Meanwhile, Wellington and Christchurch could see new regional transport authorities that will have sole-charge over public transport, as well as cycling, parking and roading.

Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop said currently public transport governance was too fragmented.

"The new Wellington bus network has been a disaster with the regional council, city council and NZTA all blaming each other for the fiasco rather than doing something about it," he said.

Bishop said the party also wanted to encourage public transport authorities to partner with ride-sharing companies to better connect people with public transport in an affordable way.

Major funding boost for highways

National is promising to revive its Roads of National Significance programme and is seeking feedback on upgrading the following routes to four-lane expressways:

  • Whangārei to Warkworth
  • East-West Link in Auckland
  • Cambridge to Tirau
  • Piarere to the foot of the Kaimai Ranges
  • Tauranga to Katikati, including the Tauranga Northern Link
  • Napier to Hastings
  • Levin to Sanson
  • Manawatū Gorge
  • Christchurch to Ashburton
  • Christchurch Northern Motorway: Belfast to Pegasus

In addition, National wants to introduce new funding priority called Roads of Regional Significance for councils who are struggling to upgrade local roads under current funding rules.

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