It seems that the roadmap to congestion pricing is itself congested: gridlocked by an array of obstacles and opinions.
We have a $200k report/proposal, dense legal obstacles, technical challenges, a mayor that is “not even lukewarm”, and a public that is overwhelming against the issue.
So what happens next? Nothing?
The first hurdle seems to lie with parliament, in the resolution of the various legal issues that block the access charges on a state highway. Of course this issue is to be postponed for a “future government;” for a time when the problem is so sufficiently entrenched that the public will be sufficiently mellowed to any proposed changes.
Its a shame – Wellington is in many ways the ideal candidate for congestion pricing. The linear road corridors mean that minimal infrastructure is needed, and the various options proposed for the Ngauranga to Airport corridor will undoubtedly require the sourcing of significant new funds in the future.
Looking at the comments that the Dom received from both its street sampling and its online discussion, one of the issues cited by several interviewees is that as they are already being taxed on petrol prices, so another levy is unnecessary and unfair. The latter may be true, but certainly not the former. A petrol tax does not influence traffic trends except in a general sense. A reduction of traffic during peaks hours is much more important than a slight decrease in overall car use – hence why we have this proposal.
Ideally the implementation of a congestion charge would be coupled with a slight reduction in the region’s petrol tax. This would be so that the gross amount of taxation in the system remains unchanged, but we gaining the selective discrimination that congestion charging aim for.
Another commonly raised issue was the lack of quality public transport. This may certainly be true, but doesn’t this ignore one of the key points of the proposal – to generate revenue that can then be used to improve public transport?
If you will – in order to contrast the stick with the carrot, it seems that we must first purchase a carrot…