Mayor Wayne Brown says he’s determined to bring in “time of use” charges, more commonly referred to as congestion charging, to free up Auckland’s motorways and busier arterial roads at rush hour.

In the past year, the mayor has been pushing for legislative changes which would allow his council to introduce congestion charging on key motorways and arterials.

The new tax, dubbed “time of use charges”, was intended to encourage some motorists to change the time, route or method of their travel. Others might choose not to travel at all.

Previously, Brown has suggested a charge of around $5 per trip under a future scheme.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown has been supportive of the measure and has previously said he wanted to “rapidly legislate” to bring in new charges on drivers.

Speaking to Breakfast, Wayne Brown said it would take only a small number of motorists to change their behaviour in order to unjam Auckland’s roads.

Speaking to Breakfast, Newmarket Business Association’s Mark Knoff-Thomas has warned shoppers to plan this holiday season as Auckland faces major “teething” issues.

“If you’ll notice, the roads are not really congested during the school holidays, because there’s less people on them. It doesn’t take a lot fewer people to free it up,” he said.

“If you have time of use charging — which is if you’re on a motorway or one of our congested main roads during that peak period — you’ve only got to take about 10-to-15% off and it flows freely again, so we’re gonna be charging people to be there in those particular times.”

He added: “We can just discourage a few people by charging them, people only ever move because of money or fear — being kind doesn’t work — so the idea is to do that.”

Brown said intoducing congestion charges would be “a hell of a lot cheaper, quicker, faster than building another motorway, which just fills up again anyhow.”

Labour sought cross-party support for congestion charging legislation while it was in government, but couldn’t get National to support it, without also committing to ditching the Auckland regional fuel tax.

Auckland’s mayor said today: “What we are talking about is a time of use charging, which is what a lot of people call congestion charging in other places. It’s very well known.

The National leader says the devil is in the detail about whether the proposed fee will work for Auckland.

“It’s not a surprisingly new thing. You’re just encouraging people to change their day a bit or do something differently — or better still, get on a bus. There are options, you know.”

He added: “We’ve got lots and lots of buses that will take more people.”

Pressed whether the quality of the city’s public transport was up to scratch, Brown said: “The main problem is people just don’t want to do it.

“The other thing I’m really keen on doing is having dynamic lanes so that you use more lanes in, in the morning and less out. We’ve already got that going at Whangaparāoa.”

He said there was opposition to dynamic lanes as well. “When they first wanted to put that in, they had consultation and everyone thought: ‘What a terrible idea. We don’t wanna do that. You know, it’s terrible. It’s something different.’

“Goodness me. Now, of course, if you took it away, they’d be upset because it really works well. So sometimes you just have to make a decision based on the fact that you know it’s gonna work.”

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