Congestion charging

The Dominion Post has details of a proposal to introduce congestion charging here in Wellington, with one proposal including a fee between $1.50 and $4.50 to enter or leave a congestion charging zone between 7am and 9am, and 4pm to 6pm on weekdays, with suggestions for further tolls at other points, such as Pukerua Bay, Tawa and Ngauranga Gorge on SH1, and Petone and Lower Hutt on SH2. The scheme has distinct similarities to those already in place in London, Singapore, and introduced more recently in Stockhom. There are indications it has been successful, with a 10-15% decrease in vechiles entering the zone in London, and 13% fewer cars in the Singapore zone during operational hours. In London, the introduction of congestion charging has seen a 25% increase in bus patronage, and 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from transport, and an overall neutral economic impact (although the retail sector has suffered).

For these reasons I support the idea, but have some reservations. Firstly our train system is running at close to full capacity, although new trains are coming in 2010. If congestion charging is introduced, improvements to public transport (which must be very substantial) must be introduced before, not after the congestion sharging takes effect (with the tax revenue going to repay the loan). The zone should only cover predominately comercial areas of the CBD (the Motorway, Vivian Street and Cambridge Terrace could form a good boundary), and I am completely opposed to charges outside the CBD. And to repeat, the improvements in public transport must be big. A 10c per litre regional petrol tax could complement the scheme. I can not say for sure wether the idea is good until I see the full details, but considering it as an option is certainly a good idea.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog

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