Bridge Cycleway Toll Debate


How much should a toll on the Auckland Harbour Bridge be for cyclists or pedestrians? Or should there be a toll?
The technical report has been delivered to NZTA and they are now reviewing it. The technical review is a check of the details relating to the design of the Pathway.

NZTA have already advised “current analysis indicates that there is sufficient capacity in the southbound box girder [clip-ons] to support a walkway/ cycleway.”

A similar walk and cycleway on the Canada Line Bridge in Vancouver is being put forward as the model.
That path was done 2 years ago.
That pathway is steeper and narrower than that proposed for the Auckland (Auckland’s gradient will be 3 degrees described as “a gentle grade”) but no personal safety issues, accidents or injuries have been recorded.
The clip-on lanes have been undergoing a major strengthening project, which includes the addition of 900 tonnes of steel at an estimated cost of $86 million.
This strengthening reduces movement of the clip-ons.

That bridge has one thing Auckland’s doesn’t yet have - rail going over it. Can we get that at the same time please!

Pathway advocates Get Across say: “We hope NZTA will accept that waiting 20 to 30 years for the next Harbour Crossing is too long, and that it has a responsibility to get on with providing walking and cycling access across the bridge. The Pathway Working Group led by Hopper Developments hopes to make swift progress in 2011 on what will be one of Auckland’s most treasured assets. We await the results of NZTA’s review with anticipation!”

Good luck and well done Get Across to get this far.

The Pathway will be attached under the deck cantilever of the eastern clip-on, as shown:

The pathway would be done under a public private partnership undertaken by a Pathway Company that would oversee the funding, design and building in conjunction with the NZTA. It would operate it for 15 years to repay the funding, then it would be transferred to NZTA.
Tolls will pay for it. They’re proosed to be:
  • Public transport Smartcard $1.95 each way, $3.90 return
  • EFTPOS, cash, credit card, texting $5.00 each way, $10.00 return
  • The toll for children will be about half these rates.
The revenue source from the Pathway toll has been calculated over 15 years to be able to service and repay a construction debt of approximately $16 million (using a net present value calculation on the forecast revenues) at a return of 9.5% pa.

It will be built of fire1resistant materials and be well lit at night. Facilities on the Pathway will include viewing stations that give views across Auckland Harbour towards the city, North Shore and the Hauraki Gulf. These can include seating, drinking fountains and coin1operated binoculars.
Toilets are available on the city side at Westhaven Marina, approximately 40 metres from the southern entrance to the Pathway .
On the southern (Auckland City) side, the Pathway would connect directly to Westhaven Drive, which is part of Auckland City’s existing 501km cycling circuit, and provides access to the CBD via Westhaven and the Wynyard Quarter development. Connection into Ponsonby would be provided by existing walking and cycling path along Curran Street or via Shelley Beach Road.
On the northern (North Shore) side, the Pathway connects to Princes Street, Northcote Point. The local street network provides access to Northcote, AUT University, Glenfield, Birkenhead, Takapuna and other North Shore suburbs and facilities.

Here are some of the group’s financial estimations:




  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rachel Rayner, Cycle Action and kris_b, AKT. AKT said: Plans for Auck Harbour Bridge cycle-walkway on clip-ons moves forward #auckland [...]

  2. greenwelly says:

    I am not sure it is correct to say that the bike bridge was retrofitted to the Canada line rail bridge

    The entire bridge is new for the “skytrain” extension and opened in August 2009, the bike bridge part opened 3 days *before* the train line- so both are only 18 months old.

  3. mark says:

    I think regular patrols (presumably with gards on bikes) will be key - otherwise it won’t feel safe. CCTV cameras are useless if not backed up with somebody close by to respond to bad behaviour.

    Sadly, the combination of paying for the patrols and somebody monitoring the cameras will drive up the operations costs, but I understand that has already been figured in.

  4. Matt L says:

    Another thing that will likely be an issue is scooters and things like that. There is already an issue with them on the NW cycleway and even if illegial I imagine there will be a number of people who ignore as there isn’t any other reasonable way for them to get across.

  5. mark says:

    Matt, the problem will be much more limited on the AHB. There will be controls at the entries for payment, which is the most effective way of preventing scooter use. The AHB pathway will also have only one entry and exit (rather than the Northwestern, where controls are harder with accesses at so many points) and the public backlash from users would be more prominent.

    So, not too worried there.

  6. George D says:

    Whoa, free to drive, $3.90 to cycle there and back? What an awful solution.

    I know that the bridge was tolled in the first place, but that was a long time ago.

    I have grave doubts it would attract sufficient patronage, and thus would be seen as a cycling white-elephant, and harm cycling efforts generally.

  7. KLK says:

    Cars going over for free, but walkers/cyclists paying?

    Only in Auckland…..

  8. mark says:

    “Cars going over for free, but walkers/cyclists paying?

    Only in Auckland…..”

    As they said, it was tolled for cars once too. The usage calculations are based on estimates on how the toll would affect use, and they also include the fact that many tourist would be happy to pay the (for a once-off) small fee.

    Anyway, not a question for politicians - as if it comes about as a tolled design, then it will be privately underwritten, so they have to make the call whether or not it will work, not the Councillors.

    That said, $80 a month for a cycle commutter IS a reasonable chunk of money, I’ll admit that… hope they can bring that down a bit more.

  9. Nick R says:

    It would be nice if Auckland Council could step in and shadow toll the route if it proves to be successful.

  10. mark says:

    Nick R - well, yes, it would be nice if AC came to the party, even if belatedly.

    The problem with that is that cycling-haters like Brian Rudman will use comments like yours to claim that no matter what GetAcross/Hoppers say, the ratepayers will have to pay for it in the end. Cycling, in the heads of those dinosaurs, is still not worth spending money on.

  11. AKT says:

    Have added in the financial projections at the bottom of the post. Hope you can read them.

  12. Nick R says:

    Interesting they say there are no commuter children.

    Certainly some children commute to school (Senior College for example), and many parents take their children to city childcare etc.

  13. KLK says:

    $10 return - per person - is ridiculous. It should cost no more than what it takes to ride across in a bus.

    So a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) is expected to pay NZ$30 to walk across the bridge and back?

    Oh yeah - the tourists are going to flock to that….

  14. malcolm says:

    $80 for cyclists a month may sound like a lot, but then I imagine they are already paying more than that for bus/ferry/car travel?

  15. richard says:

    Frankly I don’t see why there should be a charge at all, this is discriminatory if motor vehicles are free. A lack of ped/cycle lane was a design fault on the 1959 bridge.

    It must be remembered the bridge is part of State Highway 1 and unlike the toll road at Puhoi there is no satisfactory free alternative. I have always maintained cyclists should be fully subsidised on the ferries because of the lack of bridge access.

  16. Matt L says:

    Richard - the reason it will be tolled is that a private company is going to fund and build it. The reason they are doing it is because the NZTA won’t do anything about it till the next harbour crossing is built which won’t be for 20 odd years at least

  17. mark says:

    “Frankly I don’t see why there should be a charge at all, this is discriminatory if motor vehicles are free.”

    Send a message to your politician and to NZTA. Parts of both groups still feel this is something they are being pressured into by a minority user group, and it was a huge struggle to even get them accept the possibility of having a private interest pay for it.

    They’d prefer nobody touch the bridge, and so they’ve been looking very keenly at the studies that have been done, especially the ones dealing with structural matters of how the cycleway would clip onto the clip-on (of which there have been several now).

  18. Paul Q says:

    Jon - re “That bridge has one thing Auckland’s doesn’t yet have – rail going over it. Can we get that at the same time please!” You’re the expert, but wouldnt the bridge be too steep for trains?

    Also, all the discussion above re why should pedestrians pay when cars are free, as has already been pointed out, vehicles did have to pay for many years when the bridge was first built, well until after the construction costs were paid off. So pedestrians should also pay for their construction requirement.

  19. Nick R says:

    Yes the bridge is too steep for the kind of rail we already have in Auckland, plus adding on the structure to support rail tracks would probably be too much weight for the already stressed bridge.

    Light rail/ trams might be an option, but probably only at the expense of two of the existing traffic lanes (read: impossible in Auckland).

  20. Jon C says:

    @Paul Q That is in reference to the next tunnel/bridge. The present one has a limited shelf life and having biked and walked over it during last year’s protest day, it is steep!Cheers

  21. mark says:

    “So pedestrians should also pay for their construction requirement.”

    Except that footpaths are not tolled either, nor are footbridges and bike bridges elsewhere - in all honesty, tolling it is stupid in PRACTICAL terms, as it adds enormously to the operations costs, and at least some to the construction costs. But if that’s the only way we can get it, go for it.

    The funny thing is that they could have added the footpaths / cycleways at something like 0.5% (my guess) of the original bridge budget. Or at least added them when they added the Nippon clip-ons. But no, they “saved” costs, and now we are still talking 50 years later, and having to finance the great cost of a retrofit, rather than the minor cost of getting it right the first time.

  22. richard says:

    Whilst I disagree with tolls ,when they stopped cars were 20c charged northbound only. (The toll in 1959 I recall was 2/6d each way, a large portion of the pay packet)

    Unless I have read it incorrectly the proposed toll is just under $9.00 return? with almost a 2/3 discount for using a card?? This is a ridiculous formula what about the Gold Card is that going to be free? If not I can go on the ferry after 9.00am free so no way would I go over the bridge at that crazy toll !!

    As proposed this will develop into the occasional novelty trip use only and few will use it

  23. mark says:

    Hey, it is proposed at $3.90 RETURN. So no talk of “just under $9 return” please.

    The smartcard would be the same as used for integrated public transport ticketing, and if you are a daily (or regular) commutter and too lazy to get it when it gives you a 50% discount on the bridge, then it’s your own fault.

    The ferry comparison is a straw man comparison. Ferries aren’t free (most of us aren’t Gold Card holders!) and the bridge is not really competing with ferries - it is opening up a total new way of getting across the harbour. One without long waits for a ferry, one without having the hassle of getting a bike on/off the ferry, without the wait involved etc…

    Sure, usage will be lower than on a free bridge, but that is what the failure of previous and current governments to really support walking and cycling has created for us. Don’t knock the people who are tenaciously trying to find a useful way around these limitations. For a free ride to the city, lot’s of people would be willing to pay $2, and lots of tourists would be willing to pay $5 for a walk over the bridge, and then have a pelasant ferry ride back.

  24. Carl H says:

    As a cyclist, I’m in favour of the proposed toll if it means that this long overdue link finally gets built.


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