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City council not ruling out congestion charge

Archie Milligan
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Traffic  Archie Milligan

With the introduction of a congestion charge in Auckland looking likely, should Christchurch be preparing for something similar?

The Government is expected to make an announcement on Auckland congestion charges next Monday. It could see road users paying up to $7 to leave and arrive in the CBD during peak hours.

Christchurch City Council Head of Transport, Lynette Ellis, says road pricing and congestion charging are just some of the potential actions council is considering for the draft Christchurch Transportation Plan.

“One of the key transport outcomes that the draft plan is seeking, is to reduce transport emissions. This aligns with the direction coming from Central Government through the draft Emission Reduction Plan.”

Ellis says the best option for road pricing needs to be investigated first and implemented when the legislation changes allow it.

City councillor James Gough says congestion charging is another example of a 'very scary pattern emerging' of decisions from the council, including the availability and price of parking in the CBD.

“The council is failing woefully to deliver the core fundamentals to residents adequately yet is increasingly trying to dictate behavioural change to individuals to align with its own social ideology.”

Gough says his concerns, shared by councillors MacDonald, Chu, Keown and Mauger, are falling on deaf ears.

The council has a target of halving emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2045.

The Helen Clark Foundation/WSP report is the first of its kind in New Zealand that focuses on the equity impacts of congestion charging.

The report says robust community engagement should be undertaken, and alternatives like public transport should be improved before implementation.

“However, given those on the lowest incomes spend up to 28% of their income on transport costs, it’s important that the policy doesn’t end up hitting them the hardest.”

The Draft Transport Plan will be consulted on in 2023 and includes actions driving a 10-year investment plan, to direct the city's transport programme through the Long-Term Plan 2024-34.