It’s about damn time Aucklanders pay to use the motorway

Opinion 03/05/2018
Photo credit: Getty.

By Mike Roke, RadioLIVE Drive producer. 

OPINION: Auckland is a city nearing crisis point. There are not enough houses but there are too many cars.

The truth is Auckland has been suffering for decades from poor decision-making and future planning. Living here you really do get the feeling that Auckland has been made up on the fly.

Back in the 50s a decision was made to build a bridge across the harbour to allow easy access to the North Shore. Great idea.

However, what wasn't a great idea was to only make it two lanes in each direction. No one was smart enough at the time to figure out if you make an area more accessible more people will move there meaning there will be more traffic.

So instead of building more lanes than you need at the time you instead go back a decade later and add clip on lanes at a much greater expense.

Living here you really do get the feeling that Auckland has been made up on the fly.

And instead of keeping a toll on this essential road way to help pay for future roading projects you remove the toll.

Introducing a new toll never goes down well so why wouldn't you keep a toll going that people are used to paying?

But at least lessons were learned from the Harbour Bridge right? Wrong.

The North Western motorway took some 30 years to fully complete but was once again only two lanes in each direction. And guess what? More people moved west, meaning more traffic on the road and more lanes needed to be added. They are still adding more lanes today.

The Southern motorway only has two lanes at Takanini which causes a major bottleneck everyday. There are currently more road works going on there to create more lanes. There is never a time you can go through Greenlane or Ellerslie without getting stuck in traffic. Even the weekends have heavy traffic flows.

There is no rail to the North Shore or the airport.

I wonder what visitors from other nations think when they arrive in Auckland? Instead of a nice and stress-free ride on a train into their inner city hotel instead they get a 90-minute ride in a taxi at a cost of around $100.

Because of its sparseness and lack of public transport, the preferred way to get around Auckland is by car.

The time for free rides on the motorway should be over.

But the sheer number of cars on the road is unsustainable, with 800 added every week.

To get from one side of Auckland to the other in reasonable traffic would take over an hour, in bad traffic double that.

If you live in the outer suburbs but work in the city you will either be horribly early each day or unacceptably late. I would bet no one gets to work 'on time' in Auckland anymore.

Something has to be done and it has to be done now. Phil Goff has some very difficult decisions to make. He will probably be a very unpopular mayor because of them but if he wants to get this city moving again he needs to make them.

Mike Roke wants the Mayor to get people off the motorway.

He needs to get Aucklanders out of their cars and onto public transport. The only way to do that is by making public transport more attractive and easier for commuters than driving their cars, and cheaper.

The time for free rides on the motorway should be over. People need to be charged to drive on the motorway during peak times - while buses and trains need be available for free.

Whatever cost it will be to get more buses, trains and drivers can be covered by those on the northern, southern or western car parks who insist on still driving their cars during peak times.

It will not be popular. But drastic times call for drastic measures; and these my friends, are drastic times.

I'm not talking a $1 or $2 charge either. I’m talking $5 or $10 each way. If you are wanting to change the psyche of people you need to give incentive, and the best incentive of all is money. It needs to be considerably cheaper to ride a bus or train than to drive your car or people simply will not do it.

No one likes paying for something that used to be free, and it will be a major adjustment.

But Aucklanders need to get real.

What we have now isn't working and will only get worse. Unless you want to live your life in gridlock you need to change your habits. We all do.

Or move away.

Mike Roke is a producer for RadioLIVE Drive.