How Auckland drivers would respond to road charges

7:42 am on 3 August 2016

Auckland motorists are open to paying charges to use roads, but few would give up using their cars, a survey shows.

Congested outgoing traffic in the afternoon rushhour on an Auckland motorway

Those surveyed by the AA were more open to the idea of road charges instead of fuel taxes. Photo: 123rf

The Automobile Association (AA) quizzed 1300 members about the government's intention to consider a road pricing scheme in the future in Auckland, to help ease congestion.

Asked whether the government should consider charging on congested roads at busy times, 31 percent said yes, 33 percent said maybe and 30 percent said it should never happen.

AA asked whether those surveyed were open to the idea of road charges instead of fuel taxes, and 56 percent backed the idea either immediately or at some time in the future.

The survey found little enthusiasm for switching to public transport as a way of avoiding even a $5 toll and greater congestion.

Only about 8 percent said they would quit their cars in response to a $2 charge on most key roads, although 17 percent who drive into the CBD said they would.

AA spokesperson Barney Irvine said the findings showed a need to improve public transport.

"There is still quite a strong desire on the part of people to avoid the charges, and that emphasises the need to demonstrate to people the benefits of paying additional charges in terms of travel time savings," he said.

He said for a road charges scheme to work, people needed to be convinced of its merits and eased into how a new system would work.

That process had taken 10 years to reach a pilot stage in the American state of Oregon, he said.

"That's not a case of putting things off for 10 years but rather setting up a very clear set of steps to develop the process and develop the interaction with the public."