Auckland transport funding

July 16th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Aucklanders have two options to address the city’s funding gap: road tolls, or higher rates and fuel taxes.

That’s the conclusion of a high-level report, released this afternoon, which gives Council and the Government a clear timetable for when new revenue sources will be needed to raise an extra $400 million for each of 30 years – $12 billion in total.

The money will be for projects such as the City Rail Link and new roads, including another Waitemata Harbour crossing.

But Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee immediately ruled out two options.

“We say no to regional fuel tax and no to tolls on existing roads,” he told 3 News.

The report, by the Consensus Building Group (CBG), a 17-member think-tank appointed by Mayor Len Brown, concluded that unless Aucklanders were prepared to accept significantly higher rates increases and heavier congestion, introducing some form of congestion charge by 2021 would be required.

I think a congestion charge is the best form of funding, as it is basically user pays. The challenge is whether it can be done in an efficient way.

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31 Responses to “Auckland transport funding”

  1. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    Reporting on this was quite misleading early on, basically says “Brownlee says no to tolls” – but the key in his statement is tolls on EXISTING roads. That does not rule out tolls on the new roads.

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  2. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    “The money will be for projects such as the City Rail Link ”

    So let’s define a problem as shortage of money by first assuming that we will mindlessly spend money. Then take it from there.

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  3. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    Surely if you put a charge on ‘congestion’ people will reduce their use of those areas so the revenue will also reduce.

    The main aim should be to get on with the plans and then do the detailed costing – and then decide how it is to be paid for.

    That, it seems to me, is what Gerry is saying.

    Instead, this committee wants to start fleecing everyone for money right now so at some stage the council will have a lovely pot of gold to squander.

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  4. Jmac (16 comments) says:

    I am so utterly sick and tired of Auckland Council debates being framed from the get go as having no other options but to charge the residents more and more!

    Yes a congestion charge is closer to being user pays, but why must a motorist pay to fund some person who wants to use a train?

    Non-thinking people continue go trumpet the tolling of existing roads as an option. Do they not realise that this is exactly the sort of thing that drives up costs which will then get passed on to consumers,et alone the extra cost to commuters?

    And then, the fact no one wants to talk about. How much assetsdoes the Auckland council have? Accordkng

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  5. All_on_Red (1,581 comments) says:

    No mention of the third option.
    Reduce costs by cancelling unnecessary program’s .
    If they did that they might be able to service the debt.

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  6. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    A poll tax (so those in state houses and private rental properties have to contribute their fair share) is the best and most even handed way to fund the socialist public transport system.

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  7. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    These people were Lens appointees. So the result as it should be in any well managed enquiry will be that which Len wanted.

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  8. campit (467 comments) says:

    For those interested, the report in PDF format is here:

    http://keepaucklandmoving.org.nz/documents/Funding%20Auckland's%20Transport%20Future.pdf

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  9. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    How much does Auckland tax payers kick to the govt every year?

    How much do we get back?

    If we are paying more than we get back (pretty sure we are), how about the govt stump up the cash.

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  10. Jmac (16 comments) says:

    Editing bombed. Cont…

    And then, the fact no one wants to talk about. What is the total of Auckland Council assets? According to the Councils wikipedia page, 34 Billion dollars! But we want to pay for a train set out of taxing all Kiwis or bashing motorists more, or fleecing the retiree with more rates.

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  11. lastmanstanding (1,293 comments) says:

    Auckland needs loopy Lennies chew chew train set like a hole in the head. It will be a multi BILLION DOLLAR white elephant. Fact is Auckland doesn’t have the population in a small enough area to make public transport work. Look at Sydney. The whole population of NZ in one city and it costs billions in subsidies.
    Fact is most Aucklanders work in one part of the city and live in another. Only a small number work in the CBD. Workers need to get from home to work and work to home and that means travel across the city from one end to the other.
    Solution is for more work from home options which needs to be driven by employers. Fact is many workers could do some of their work from home using these new fangled devices like telephone and that computer thingy but central local government and employers are stuck in the 19th Century where employees have to clock on and off and be watched all day so they don’t shirk.
    Another option is staggered working hours so the rush hour at each end of the day is reduced. Mind you from North Shore to CBD rush hour starts at 6.30am to 10.30 am and again at 3pm to 7pm some caused by Mummies taking Trustin and Gemma the couple of kms from home to school and back again.
    If the Mummies sent Tristin and Gemma on the school bus or made them walk that would reduce the congestion especially in the suburbs.

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  12. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    How about we sell assets to pay for the socialist transport policies?

    We could start with the Ports of Auckland and the land that it currently occupies. Moving all container freight to Tauranga makes sense anyway and it would have the added benefit of killing off the scum unionists who infest the place.

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  13. Bykmad (21 comments) says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the major problem is not being addressed by anyone. The University is on a break, School holidays are in full swing and suddenly my morning commute goes from around 1 hour to 25 minutes. Same for evening commute.
    The underground train set will not address the University or School traffic. We will be left with Loonie Lens Legacy. An underground Train Set that bleeds ratepayer money!

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  14. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    bykmad – yep!

    great point!

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  15. JeffW (326 comments) says:

    There is little doubt Len will want rates to fund rather than any form of user pays – in this manner the richer Eastern suburbs will pay much more than his voting base in the south.

    I agree that the nature of AKL with its sprawl relative to population, and centres of employment everywhere, will not get value out of Len’s train set.

    Re asset sales – I do not think any level of government should own commercial assets which the private sector will operate more efficiently. There is a question of timing, however – there is no sense in selling assets when the particular government body (in this case AKL council) is wasting millions. It is necessary to control spending first, so that the revenue from the asset sale can be applied sensibly rather than merely to prolong the period of waste.

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  16. david (2,557 comments) says:

    previously commented at GD but more relevant here.

    Nowhere in all this has there been mention of slicing some cost out of the extravagant Council bloated budget that gets spent on frivolous frippery like gay parades, Chinese lantern festivals, speed bump axle breakers on suburban streets, community board grants (here is some cash to splash around), Maori committees, Len’s spin team of 13, etc or of selling down some assets and bringing a commercial basis to operating things like Ports of Auckland.

    The “consensus building” exercise has been a con and a further waste of what should necessarily be scarce council resources. I just refuse to believe that the easy option of “extort more money from the citizens” should be the only thing considered.

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  17. wreck1080 (3,906 comments) says:

    I’m questioning Brownlees intelligence on this as he says congestion charges do not work.

    “”It doesn’t appear that they have heard some of the views of the Government – particularly on tolling of existing roads and then the somewhat perplexing idea that you can raise revenue by reducing traffic through congestion charging,” Mr Brownlee said.”

    Perhaps brownlees perplexed brain doesn’t get that if you reduce congestion you might not need to stump up the funds in the first place.

    I love the idea of congestion charging — being able to charge people based on current congestion levels is brilliant. The best overseas systems can be used as a model.

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  18. hj (6,996 comments) says:

    another problem caused by government favouring population increase to give the economy a sugar hit. When does “world class city” kick in and be felt by ordinary people>

    Savings Working Group
    January 2011
    “The big adverse gap in productivity between New Zealand and other countries opened up from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The policy choice that increased immigration – given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration. This adjustment would have involved a lower real interest rate (and cost of capital) and a lower real exchange rate, meaning a more favourable environment for raising the low level of productive capital per worker and labour productivity. The low level of capital per worker is a striking symptom of New Zealand’s economic challenge.

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/reviews-consultation/savingsworkinggroup/pdfs/swg-report-jan11.pdf

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  19. RRM (9,917 comments) says:

    Wailing and gnashing of teeth ensues, as the realisation dawns that “fixing out transport problems” is going to cost money… :-)

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  20. flipper (4,056 comments) says:

    Bykmad (16) Says:

    July 16th, 2013 at 10:31 am
    Correct me if I am wrong, but the major problem is not being addressed by anyone. The University is on a break, School holidays are in full swing and suddenly my morning commute goes from around 1 hour to 25 minutes. Same for evening commute.
    The underground train set will not address the University or School traffic. We will be left with Loonie Lens Legacy. An underground Train Set that bleeds ratepayer money!
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Absolutely correct. To help solve the problem, ban parents from taking kids to school in cars/SUVs et al, when they easily walk or cycle… :) … and ban uni wallahs from using cars unless they have repaid all student loans, and are actually earning and paying taxes. :) )


    But seriously, the school AM and PM congestion is a major problem where I live, and we have no plans for more trains.
    ….
    The congestion charge is just as big Gerry describes it – self defeating.

    The whole timing of the this silly rail business (forget about Campit’s vested interests)
    is dependant upon inner city growth, ergo moves that reduce traffic and the working population within that (CBD) area are self defeating.

    Gerry’s main message was: “You did not listen to what we said three months ago. “Listen-up Auckland !

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  21. backster (2,171 comments) says:

    17 member think tank sums up part of the problem. If the council halved the number of its members, abolished leeches of no value like the large Maori Affairs advisory, did a productivity study on each of its employees, and sliced up the credit cards on issue, as well as selling off commercial assets it would go some way to becoming more dynamic and able to resolve it’s own core problems.

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  22. Lance (2,655 comments) says:

    Oh goody
    Use public transport they say…..

    Like if you want to go from Auckland CBD to Henderson on the weekend it takes 3 fucking hours.
    I repeat 3 fucking hours stopping at nearly every fucking bus stop in half the fucking city.
    And because of the only fucking torturous route goes everywhere it only costs 12 fucking dollars one way.

    Nice vision Len

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  23. mavxp (483 comments) says:

    The school hols are not just kids who don’t go to school, but parents not going to work – since many take their holidays to look after the kids while they are off school. Otherwise there would not be congestion at 5-7pm since this does not coincide with a school run.

    However if congestion charging is to be applied to prevent parents driving their kids to/from school, then set up a 10min walking distance perimeter around every school and charge vehicles entering these zones between 7am and 9am, and 2:45pm and 4pm.

    Public transport only works when there is a high density of people, so that many bus/ train/ tram services can operate at regular intervals, link up and be cost effective for the average commuter. Fixing Auckland is a pig’s ear because it is so spread out, low density and everyone going every which way. I personally never want to live there again. I’d happily live in Melbourne or London, but Auckland – no way José.

    What they need to do is create transport corridors and hubs with Park ‘n ride services. Include high capacity roads with dedicated bus lanes (e.g. Northern Bus-way) initially that can be upgraded to light-rail when the economics stack up. Going straight to rail for all but the main-trunk routes doesn’t make much sense to me. Basically Aucklander’s have been underinvesting in their transport needs for decades, catch-up time is painful as the problem only grows. Also buses can be supplanted with freelance van drivers (no need for heavy vehicle license) in the suburbs – some pocket money for retired folks to drive people too and from their homes and the transport hubs. Why not?

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  24. Nigel Kearney (1,012 comments) says:

    Congestion charges are not ‘basically user pays’.

    In a true user pays system, the cost of each piece of road would be shared evenly among those using it. If that happened, the high volume of traffic in busy urban areas means those people would pay less than they do now (and certainly would not be saddled with extra charges) while those in rural areas would pay more or would not have roads at all.

    Making people pay again for something they have already overpaid for through petrol taxes is not user pays in any way.

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  25. publicwatchdog (2,593 comments) says:

    Hi Kiwibloggers!

    Seen this? :)

    Press Release from Auckland Mayoral candidate Penny Bright:

    “The ‘Conned Senseless’ Building Group report on Auckland transport funding options is fundamentally and fatally flawed”.

    16 July 2013

    http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/newseventsculture/OurAuckland/News/Pages/keepaucklandmoving.aspx

    “Over the next 30 years, the number of people living in Auckland is expected to increase by up to one million – mostly due to natural population growth. Along with this comes the need to expand and improve Auckland’s transport system.”

    “MYTH ONE: Here we go again, this ‘million more people’ myth and urban legend is now being regurgitated as a primary underpinning reason to expand Auckland transport infrastructure,” says Auckland Mayoral candidate, Penny Bright.

    “No disrespect, but are / were all the members of this ‘Conned Senseless’ Building Group, aware that the use of the Department of Statistics ‘high’ population growth projections, ( the one million more people coming to Auckland in the next 30 years), instead of their recommended ‘medium’ population growth projections, is now being investigated by the Social Services Select Committee?”

    http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Presented/Petitions/5/0/5/50DBHOH_PET3157_1-Petition-of-Penelope-Mary-Bright-requesting-that.htm

    Petition of Penelope Mary Bright

    Requesting that Parliament declines to proceed with the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill until the lawfulness of the reliance of Auckland Council on the New Zealand Department of Statistics’ “high”population growth projections, instead of their “medium” population growth projections for the Auckland Spatial Plan, has been properly and independently investigated, taking into consideration that both Auckland Transport and Watercare Services Ltd, have relied upon “medium” population growth projections for their infrastructural asset management plans.

    Petition number: 2011/64
    Presented by: Holly Walker
    Date presented: 30 May 2013
    Referred to: Social Services Committee
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

    ‘Supplementary Evidence':

    http://www.occupyaucklandvsaucklandcouncilappeal.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Housing-Accord-and-Special-Housing-Areas-Bil-Supplementary-Evidence-13-Juna-2013.pdf

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

    “MYTH TWO: The only sources of monies available for ‘improving Auckland’s transport system’ are: road tolls, or higher rates and fuel taxes’,”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10898450

    ” How about checking with a ‘fine-tooth comb’ EXACTLY where Auckland Council (and Auckland Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) rates monies are currently being SPENT, and cutting back rates SPENDING?”

    “No disrespect intended, but are / were all the members of this ‘Conned Senseless’ Building Group, aware that Auckland Council ‘books’ are still not open, and citizens and ratepayers do not know exactly how much public rates monies are being spent on private ‘piggy-in-the-middle’ consultants and contractors?”

    “No disrespect intended, but are / were all the members of this ‘Conned Senseless’ Building Group, aware that in an an Auckland Council Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) reply dated 21 November 2011:

    (QUESTION)

    “1) Is the Auckland Council, in a truly ‘open, transparent and democratically-accountable’ way, going to ensure that citizens and ratepayers of the Auckland region are going to be given the
    ‘devilish’ detail, so we can see exactly where our rates monies are being spent on private sector consultants and contractors?

    2) a) .Are the names of the consultants/contractors; the scope, term and value of these contracts going to be published in the Auckland Council Annual Report so that they are available for public scrutiny?

    b) if not- why not?

    (ANSWER)

    Not at this stage. There are 5,000, contracts related to 12,500 suppliers. To collate and pub!ish these would be a major exercise logistically and cost~wise. ….. ”

    [See Item 6 ]

    http://www.occupyaucklandvsaucklandcouncilappeal.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/OCCUPY-AUCKLAND-APPEAL-APPLICATION-BY-APPELLANT-BRIGHT-TO-ADDUCE-NEW-EVIDENCE-pdf.pdf

    “I checked today on the Auckland Council website, and can still find no such publicly available details of ‘contracts issued'”

    http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/HowCouncilWorks/Pages/working_with_council.aspx

    “Did the ‘Conned Senseless’ Building Group investigate how much public money could be freed up to serve the interests of the public majority, (including Auckland transport funding), by CUTTING OUT THE CONSULTANTS and PRIVATE CONTRACTORS, and returning core Council services ‘in-house’?

    “If there is no ‘cost-benefit’ analysis which proves that private provision of Council services is more cost-effective for the public majority, then as an Auckland Mayoral candidate, I believe that this long-term corporate welfare must cease forthwith.”

    ” My recommendation is that citizens and ratepayers in the Auckland region do your own ‘cost-benefit’ analysis. Since this so-called Auckland ‘$upercity’ was forced upon the Auckland region, have YOUR rates gone up or down?”

    “See? The public majority of the Auckland region have been ‘CONNED’ by the CONsultants, and the CONtractors, and those who serve their interests – arguably the NZ Property Council and the Committee for Auckland,”

    “As an Auckland Mayoral candidate – this is where I stand:

    NO road tolls/ fuel taxes or rates increases to fund Auckland transport infrastructure.

    Open the books.

    Cut out all the consultants and contractors who are effectively on ‘corporate welfare’.

    Get rid of these ‘corporate-controlled’ CCOs, with their appointed Boards of arguably self-serving business people.

    Bring core Council services back ‘in-house’, and employ Council Officers who have a ‘public service’ background and ethos, not private sector functionaries who are now running Auckland Council as if it were their own private company.

    Take back public ownership, operation and control of Auckland passenger transport.

    Why should the public subsidise what we no longer own?

    Change the uniforms and the business cards, and Auckland Council take back operation and management of Auckland Rail, from French multinational Transdev, (formerly known as Veolia Transport Auckland)

    Use public monies for the benefit of the public majority, not the private sector, particularly multi-national corporations.”

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-corruption, anti-privatisation’ campaigner

    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate

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  26. lastmanstanding (1,293 comments) says:

    IMHO Penny Bright is on the button as regards the lack of disclosure and transparency in both Council and CCO spending on so called contractors.
    Why cant we see who what where and mots importantly how much is spent. I’ll tell you why. Because the little cosy club that exists when ‘awarding’ these contracts to mates and mates of mates.

    I betcha I could get into these outfits and cut their spending by 20% and there would be no lose of so called services.

    These outfits are bloated and populated by over paid people with made up job descriptions all writing reports for each other and doing made up work.

    Time to restrict Councils to core business and I mean core business roads rubbish collection NOT the other crapola.

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  27. david (2,557 comments) says:

    It is probably a bit late now but every new bit of motorway construction should include provision for double-tracked light rail down the centre median. If that had been done over the last 10 years we would have a light rail corridor to Albany with provision to push it further. Coupled with decent sized park&ride facilities at regularly spaced stations and Auckland would have been on the cusp of having a decent public transport backbone.

    But then that would have required some forward thinking and a tighter hand on the wallet over time and we all know how successful that would have been.

    But look on the bright side. Helen said that there would be a Waterview linkup over her dead body. Sounds terminal to me.

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  28. leftyliberal (651 comments) says:

    Wow, some people can’t get more wrong (e.g. lastmanstanding – obviously not standing on a bus or train)

    “Auckland needs loopy Lennies chew chew train set like a hole in the head. It will be a multi BILLION DOLLAR white elephant.”

    Incorrect. Rail travel has increased 7 fold in 10 years, and is expected to double again by 2020 even without the CRL being completed (capacity will be up at least 180% when the new trains come online from next year). Further, bus travel has also increased markedly over the last 10 years (now 41% of people across the bridge at peak are in a bus). At the same time numbers of km/capita driven, vehicle ownership, and driver licensing has dropped, particularly in the younger age groups. Lastly, the current estimate of $2.86B includes all contingencies, and is likely to end up significantly cheaper than that once realised (i.e. something closer to less than $2B).

    “Fact is Auckland doesn’t have the population in a small enough area to make public transport work. Look at Sydney. The whole population of NZ in one city and it costs billions in subsidies.”

    Incorrect. Auckland’s geography is actually ideally suited for rapid transit, with most of the population lying along long ellipses which converge on the isthmus. With the new bus system coming online from 2015/16 it is estimated that well over half the population will be within 1km of the rapid transit system. Further, Auckland is more dense than a number of cities that have far more effective public transit, such as Perth. The reason PT sucks in Auckland is a systematic lack of investment since the 1950s.

    “Fact is most Aucklanders work in one part of the city and live in another. Only a small number work in the CBD. Workers need to get from home to work and work to home and that means travel across the city from one end to the other.”

    First off, some 20% of employment in Auckland is in the CBD and surrounds (i.e. inside the area defined by the central motorway junction), and this proportion is increasing. Secondly, with both AUT and UoA there’s a huge number of additional people that need to get into the CBD. Thirdly, the city rail link is needed especially for those cross-town trips as it allows trains from west to east as Britomart is no longer a terminus. Further, it allows frequency on the train network to increase substantially – up to 24 trains per hour per direction on the inner lines, thus benefitting all trips on the network. Again, the combination of the improved bus network, integrated ticketing and rail network will make this even more of a priority.

    Finally, regarding subsidies, what is neglected is that roads are also subsidised, whether local or national: Both the building and maintenance thereof is sucked straight out of rates, with up to 50% (depending on the project) being out of the NZ transport fund (i.e. out of petrol taxes). i.e. they’re completely subsidised to the tune of hundreds of millions per annum.

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  29. Viking2 (11,467 comments) says:

    dime (6,735) Says:
    July 16th, 2013 at 10:22 am

    How much does Auckland tax payers kick to the govt every year?
    ——————————-

    Let me tell you dime. NOWHERE near enough. Pay you Kiwi leeches.
    Most of the money comes from South of the Bombays. You know those small hills the seem to prevent you jaffa’s from coming South (good really)

    The rest of us could liv quite nicely without the so called powerhouse called Auckland. Try dealing with companies from up there. God awful. Most no longer speak Kiwi and service is like something that used to be. Happens every day.

    And its getting worse. Even hear Aucklanders complaining about the service within their own town.

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  30. simonway (387 comments) says:

    NOWHERE near enough.

    Auckland pays out more than it gets back. If Auckland weren’t there, everybody else would have to make do with less.

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  31. simonway (387 comments) says:

    In a true user pays system, the cost of each piece of road would be shared evenly among those using it.

    Yes, but the cost would be “per unit damage to the road”, not “per unit time”. Most road wear comes from vehicles. Obviously this might not apply to the rarely-travelled rural streets, but the cost ought to be the same for a car in a busy urban centre and for a car in a low-population suburb, because the car is doing the same amount of damage to the road in each case.

    Of course, under such a system, the toll for a large truck would be several thousand dollars, because a single large truck will do several thousand times as much damage as an ordinary car, but hardly anybody, even so-called user-pays advocates, is interestind in ending subsidies for truck drivers at the expense of car drivers.

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