$6 Toll For Bridge Suggested


This story was broken here on June 20 but as the Herald and other places only discovered it today I am putting it back into debate in case there are developments.

A $6 toll per journey across the present Auckland Harbour Bridge is being suggested as a way to pay for the next Harbour crossing.

It’s suggested that toll would also be placed on the new crossing.

If a harbour tunnel, which would carry rail, was chosen, a toll would be $8 a journey.

This is suggested in an official report from the Council’s principal transport planner, Jim Fraser,  to the Kaipatiki local board. That report starts on page 92 of the board’s agenda.

It reveals that numbers have been put alongside the notion of a toll -and says such a harbour crossing toll could used to pay for the CBD Taniwha Rail Link.

This is the new commercial reality of how we can get big infrastructure projects happening especially in a financially challenging post-quake economic climate accompanied soon by what may be another global financial meltdown triggered by the situation in Greece.

The NZTA-commissioned study into a harbour crossing, released mid-March, had identified the possibility of tolling both the existing Auckland Harbour Bridge and a further crossing in order to help fund a road tunnel or a road bridge.

It said: “Consideration of such a tolling arrangement needs to be in the context of a debate about road pricing within Auckland, managing demand for travel across the Waitemata Harbour and whether the revenue should be used to fund an a harbour crossing  or a range of transport projects such as the city centre rail link.”

It added that the business case for a new crossing concluded that the project is not fundable from the National Land Transport Fund alone on the normal pay‐as‐you‐go method for highways, but is fundable through a mixture of NLTP funding and debt, and that there are a variety of mechanisms that could be considered to repay the debt.

Tolling is recognised as having the potential to play a role.

The Council’s planner report to the local board reveals that preliminary tolling investigations have already been carried out.

“These suggest that tolling could raise significant revenue ‐ a bridge could be fully funded through a toll of around $6 per trip  (on both the new and existing crossings) and a tunnel could be fully funded at a toll of around $8 per crossing.

“It should be noted however that the modelling shows an increasing drop in demand as tolls are increased (as expected) so that at toll levels of $6 and $8, demand in 2041 is expected to drop to around 50% and 40% of untolled volumes respectively.”

The  alternative funding methods besides tolling that are suggested are:

  • Crown borrowing funded by future fuel tax revenues
  • Crown borrowing and repayment via general taxes
  • Private finance
  • Rates funding
  • Value capture mechanisms
  • Tax Increment Financing.

The business case notes that “there is sufficient (funding) capacity, especially given the level of toll revenues possible, to reflect any preference that the region may have to advance the more expensive bridge option.”

Tolls back again on the bridge?

National prime minister Rob Muldoon abolished tolls in 1984 during a snap election campaign.

After the bridge oppened in 1959, cars and taxis were tolled 25c (estimated about $4.70 in today’s money), motorcycles 15c, buses 50c and 40c for commercial vehicles. Motorists could pay their toll at any one of the 14 toll booths on the northern approach to the bridge.

The old toll plaza |Unknown credit

A total of 4,924,963 vehicles crossed it in its first year.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge Authority lowered the tolls to 20c a car as a result. Later tolling was made south-bound only.

An NZTA board paper on the next Auckland harbour crossing obtained by AKT emphasised that another road bridge is the cost-effective solution but does not make any recommendation.

That NZTA commissioned report in March had  concluded a bridge was cheaper -$3.9 billion for another harbour bridge versus $5.3 billion for tunnels - but had a higher BCR.

The council report makes the important point that an assessment of crossing needs to be wider than a BCR, and needs to include the wider economic benefits and consideration of strategic fit and effectiveness of the solution that an crossing provides.

Such wider debate about the impact of infrastructure on the economics and soul of a city is a crucial point that the Government ignored in its dismissal of a CBD rail link. As debated here last week, the rail link could also lead to the transformation of the inner city.

The Council report to the Kaipatiki board, commenting on the BCR issue, says: “The conventional BCR is estimated to be 0.3 for both bridge and tunnel and “up to” 0.4 (tunnel) or 0.6 (bridge) once Wider Economic Benefits and agglomeration benefits are added.  A BCR of less than 1 means that the cost of delivering the benefits of the project is greater than the value of those benefits.

“The Business Case assumes the new crossing would open in 2029 but there is noanalysis supporting this assumption, or considering a later opening date.

The analysis underlying the BCR is indicative rather than exhaustive.

The Business Case assumes the new crossing would open in 2029 but, says the Council paper, notes “there is no analysis supporting this assumption, or considering a later opening date.”

The Council paper is helpful background for those who have not been able to wade through the 2010-commissioned NZTA report.

It spells out the arguments that are being given between another bridge or a tunnel. Earlier studies agreed widely by the Auckland local bodies and bodies at the time had argued for a tunnel but the NZTA under Minister Joyce had insisted on this new study.

The preferred passenger transport option in the 2008 Transit NZ (NZTA’s predecessor) report was a rail tunnel connecting Akoranga Station on the NorthShore with a station under Gaunt Street servicing the Wynyard Quarter.  The Gaunt Street station was to link with the CBD rail tunnel, but such a link did not form part of the study.

NZTA and KiwiRail have lodged Notices of Requirement (NORs) protecting the preferred tunnel alignments identified in the 2008 study but interestingly, those NORs have not been notified.

The report to the Kaipatiki board says the cost of a rail tunnel is part of a larger cost in relation to a rail network in the North Shore and rail connections in the city centre.  When assessed in relation to a concept for rail in the North Shore (heavy rail and mostly underground) the 2010 study found the cost of the indicative rail tunnel is difficult to justify and that significant land use change to allow intensification around stations would be required.  The 2010 study focused on the harbour crossing and did not consider a range of rail network options in the North Shore.

Despite the NZTA paper, the Auckland Council, bless it, has decided to take a lead in developing plans for North Shore rail anyway.   A joint study into rapid transit options in the North Shore has commenced which will include an investigation of options for heavy rail and light rail or an enhanced busway, supporting land use changes and how to integrate with the regional network.

The bridge versus tunnel options are stated in the planner’s report to be similar in a number of respects:

  • The rail component (bored twin tunnels) is the same for both the defined tunnel and bridge.
  • The road components of the tunnel and bridge options are of similar length and connect to the road network in the same way, and therefore have very similar transport impacts.
  • The reclamation requirements and visual impact around the Esmonde Road  and Onewa Road Interchanges are similar for both options.

The main differences between the two can be summarised as:

  • A tunnel would have very little visual impact whereas a bridge would have a very significant visual impact on views of the harbour
  • A bridge would have the effect of separating Westhaven from Wynyard Quarter and the rest of the Central Area
  • The defined road bridge is a very large structure located relatively close to the Wynyard Quarter.
  • The extent of any visual, noise or air quality impacts on the Wynyard Quarter is unclear.
  • A tunnel requires less reclamation and would cause less disruption to the Westhaven marina during construction
  • Currently proposed provision for walking and cycling (using the AHB) in the tunnel option are unsatisfactory.
  • A tunnel would be $1.4 billion more expensive to construct than a bridge ($5.3 billion vs$3.9 billion).  A tunnel would also be more expensive to operate (around $15 million additional per year).

It also spells out the route options:

The defined tunnel passes under the southwest corner of the Wynyard Quarter.  There will be some manageable impacts during construction, but after construction is completed the tunnel will have no impact on the Waterfront.

The bored tunnel would transition to cut and cover tunnel beneath Victoria Park and there would be around 300m of open trench, commencing just south of Victoria Street, connecting the tunnel with CMJ.

Both the defined bridge and defined tunnel will require reclamation on the northern side of Westhaven Drive to provide for bus lanes, walking and cycling facilities and the reinstatement of Westhaven Drive.

The bridge requires additional reclamation in order to accommodate bridgepiers.  The defined bridge will pass over Westhaven Marina, crossing the shore line just west of Z‐Pierand landing at ground level on the southern side of the existing motorway.  The bridge will cross Westhaven Drive at a height of approximately 10 metres.  The bridge will be approximately 450m from the western edge of Wynyard Quarter as it crosses the Westhaven breakwater and about 300m from the Wynyard Quarter at its southern landing.

The defined bridge is physically separated from the Wynyard Quarter and will not have direct impacts on the Quarter.  There could, however, be a visual impact because of the bulk and proximity of the bridge structure, although it is not clear how strong this impact could be at various points in the Quarter.

The bridge structure will cut across the Westhaven marina, physically separating the marina from Wynyard Quarter and from the rest of the Central Area.  While access for vehicles, walkers and cyclists will be maintained, the bridge will dominate Westhaven Drive and will discourage people from accessing the area by foot and cycle.

The bridge will form a visual barrier between Westhaven and the rest of the central area and access will not be a pleasant experience.

The bridge will have piers located within the finger berth area of Westhaven marina, resulting in the need for reconfiguration of some berths and moorings, and probably the permanent loss of some berths.  The marina will remain functioning and viable during and after construction of the bridge.  Nevertheless, the bulk of the bridge structure and the traffic noise generated will permanently alter the amenity of Westhaven and will “affect the ability to realise the long term Waterfront vision in this area”.

The study concludes that assuming a second entry route to the Central Area is developed (probably via Cook Street) the Busway can provide enough capacity for cross harbour passenger transport until at least around 2040, and proposes provision of bus lanes across the AHB andt hrough St Mary’s Bay.

The study points out that rail has benefits over buses relating to support for changes in land use patterns, reducing the number of buses using Central Area streets, and better connectivity with the regional RTN network.

The study proposes that heavy rail should cross under the harbour in its own tunnel.  It would be independent of the road crossing and could be constructed before, at the same time, or after the road crossing.

This is the same as the position reached by the 2008 study.

It said that no analysis has been undertaken on the likely timing of construction of the rail tunnel. And in the end, it’s now going to get debated by everyone in the formation of the Auckland Plan.

The mandate for this study was to investigate the crossing of the harbour from Gaunt Street in theWynyard Quarter to Akoranga Station looking particularly at possible interactions with the road crossing.

“An assessment of the role of rail and the timing of its introduction needs to encompass the whole of the potential North Shore rail system and is therefore outside the scope of this study.  This study has developed a concept for how heavy rail might operate on the North Shore, involving a rail alignment in tunnel which would connect directly with Takapuna, Wairau Valley,Windsor Park and Albany.

“That concept is only one of a number of possibilities, however, and needs to fit with the land use changes proposed through the Auckland Plan.”





  1. Matt L says:

    I think a toll should be considered to help pay for part of it and it would have to be on both a new crossing and the existing one however I cannot see North Shore residents being happy about it unless we look at tolling other parts of the roading network at the same time. The definitely won’t be happy about paying a toll if some of that money is used for the CRL.

  2. Stew says:

    I don’t mind paying a toll as long as it goes towards the rail tunnel as well as the road tunnels. Not keen on another bridge at all.
    Mind you not keen on shelling out $60 a week to get from Titirangi to Takapuna each day.

  3. Coach says:

    At $6 to $8 a pop for a toll, I can see traffic volumes on Greenhithe Bridge increasing significantly… despite the additional distance…

    $2 to $3 might be a little more palatable.

  4. rtc says:

    I hate how they say it will be $6 for a road and $8 for a road and rail how about saying it will be $4 for a rail tunnel and $8 for both. Why is there always the assumption in Auckland that a road is a necessity and a rail line or buslane is a nice to have, and is usually the first thing cut.

  5. jarbury says:

    Both options have BCRs of around 0.5. So why are we even worrying about how to pay for the project - it’s obviously unnecessary.

  6. richard says:

    I suggest an $8 toll each way would remove the need for the second crossing anyway, assuming it to be inflation adjusted.

    By the time, or soon after the tolls were introduced the Waterview connection would be completed and this plus the Hobsonville stretch of motorway opening within a couple of months would lead to a large portion of north and North Shore traffic heading to the airport and south to go that way. Even now it takes only ten to fifteen minutes longer from my home in Glenfield to get to the City compared to the AHB.

    The toll would cause many more to catch the expressway bus and from the Devonport area the ferry. This is all good of course.

    I suggest to be fair perhaps a toll similar to the Puhoi one at Hobsonville, and on the Southern M’way at a point where it is a long slow drag to exit and re-enter the motorway and avoid the toll. The toll on the AHB should be double. These tolls should be used for real alternative transport options thus making passage for those who need to use motor vehicles easier. e.g. rail, ferries, buses, cycleways. The double toll on the AHB would be for the high cost of a rail only tunnel under the harbour.

    It must be remembered when the Greenhithe bridge opened in 1976, one bridge of the planned and now built two bridges, it was not a real alternative to the AHB. but it will soon be an excellent alternative. The bridge was built by the Waitemata County to connect the two halves of the county , and allow better access to the soon to be built Albany industrial area for workers in the west.

    There are plenty of higher priorities than a third road crossing (fourth if you count the Riverhead Bridge) provided there is an overall transport plan……and that’s even if the Nipon clip-ons drop off.!!!

  7. Lti says:

    As a North Shore resident I can tell you there will be stiff opposition if some organisation starts tolling the harbour bridge to pay for improvements in their part of town.

  8. Carl says:

    I wonder if they’ll use the same stupid concept they have up north were you have to pull over into a bp station and pay the toll.

    “tolls being dropped in 2041″

    good call for a tui “yeah right” ad.

    once it starts, it will never stop, they haven’t stopped tollng in sydney and there is no word of it either.

  9. Brad H says:

    Tolling is a good idea.

    But $6 a pop and only on the bridge is really silly.

    If they are going to toll they need to toll all the motorways. Do it via distance, so if you get on at Albany and off at Newmarket make it say $4 but if you get on at Albany and off at Takapuna only $2.

  10. anthony says:

    @Brad. Now that is a good idea, but im a little worried that it might increase the sprawl. Although it might not happen if we build the CBD link and North shore link.

  11. Matt L says:

    Carl - Did you even read all of the post? tolls used to exist on the bridge but were removed in 1984.

    Brad - I have often thought automated toll gantries at each interchange with a toll based on how far you travel would be a good idea.

    Anthony - how would it increase sprawl? if you live further out you travel a further distance so pay more, if anything it helps to contain sprawl as it pays to live closer to where you work.

    Regardless there are a few issues before we start putting tolls anywhere.
    1. The government has to agree to it as they own the motorways.
    2. We would need some agreement that the money collected would fully go back to Auckland and that it could be used on non roading projects like rail.
    3. We would need to get some agreement that tolls aren’t used subsitute funding from the NLTF i.e. we would need to get our fair share of funding from fuel taxes as well as the toll money.

  12. Dan says:

    Matt L:

    What sort of fantasy land do you live in where there is housing available everywhere and it is affordable to boot? We’re in the middle of a rental shortage and housing prices have have one slip in about two years.

    Here’s an idea: Don’t make Aucklanders pay for assets they’ve already paid for.

  13. Carl says:

    Matt L - Yes I did, and know full well it use to be tolled and now its not.

    The point is, if it turns out like that stupid bs you have to go through up north with getting out of your car, or having a letter sent out in the mail (which imagine how many more trees they’ll have to cut down) it stupid.

    do what they do in europe or sydney and get etag.

    in fact a better idea would be what the poms do and make a congestion charge into the Auckland CBD.

    London works awesome with it and the funding side of things builds new buses and has extended the tube and the DLR.

    do this, rather than toll a bridge.

  14. Brad H says:

    @Carl a congestion tax for the CBD is a terrible idea. It makes the assumption that the only people causing traffic is people in the CBD it ignores all other sources and problems of traffic.

    Something like a point to point toll equally charges everyone for their journey regardless of if they are travelling into the CBD or between Manukau and Greenlane.

  15. Anthony says:


    whoops, i just looked at it at another point of view.
    (People living and working in North Shore instead of the inner city. creating a sprawl.)

    Maybe it is a great idea. It’ll send the Puford project off the rails.

  16. Matt says:

    Dan, a Capital Gains Tax would do wonders for housing affordability over the medium term, and broaden the tax base to boot. We could do many good things with that extra revenue.

  17. Matt says:

    Wait, $6 per journey? So, $12 per day if say, you live south and work on the shore? A massive $2880 per year per person (48 week working year)? Working on a usage of 170,000 vehicles per day (rounded up slightly from the 2006 stats of 168,754 vehicles per day) and we’re at nearly $250m per year if you just consider a 5 day week. Call it a 7 day week and it’s $372m per year… At that rate, by the time they’ve finished screwing around on the design, optioneering and all the other BS that has gone on so far with the bridge/tunnel, they’ll be able to build both and neither the Government nor Council will have to put in a penny. At which point, isn’t it “our” bridge/tunnel and shouldn’t we get some say in how it’s run and what can and can’t go over it (cyclists and trains for example)…..?

  18. Kurt says:

    Hang on, a politician who thinks motorists are dumb cash cows. How original!

    Our public transport system is already expensive and not all that flash on the Shore in case they haven’t noticed so where the alternative.

    While we are at it why not toll the Southern motorway, the North Western and every other major and minor arterial. I’m fairly sure that’s why petrol is already so expensive but who cares.

    If they promise to quickly set up a decent public transport system unlike our bus based system that is the major PT contributor on the North Shore and the alternative to walk and bike free a minor toll of $1 for a return trip might be tolerated.

    $6 for people who commute daily or use the bridge for work purposes would add up to $60 or more a week which is ridiculous, even $30 + for a return trip. And too bad if you want to go the city outside of that, its even worse.

    This is New Zealand after all, the land of the low wage that is progressively getting lower.

    Try harder Jim Fraser, a lot harder.

  19. Brad H says:

    @Matt if you live in South Auckland and work in North Auckland then you should move. The whole idea of commuting 50km across town is nuts. I actually wonder if you could do the trip via public transport for < $12.

  20. Carl H says:

    Are you sure the $6 toll would apply to train passengers? In other countries public transport users are exempt (e.g. Severn Tunnel linking England and Wales - rail and bus is free, car is 5 pounds)

  21. Patrick R says:

    This is a distraction. No new harbor crossing is needed for long enough that we don’t need to worry about this yet. Unless of course we are talking about road pricing across the region in order to fund public transit, but then why not just use the system we currently have: fuel tax, it’s elegant, efficient, and also acts as a disincentive to burn fossil fuels…..? Just use the NLTF for PT.

  22. Matt L says:

    Dan: This has nothing to do with housing affordability, tolling based on distance would be just making those that use a resource more pay appropriately for it.

    As for the issue of not paying for something already paid for, we would be. The whole idea is to use that investment to help fund alternatives so you have a viable choice. After all we’re not going to get a CBD tunnel, rail to the airport or any PT improvements by just asking nicely as existing funding streams won’t be enough to give us everything we want/need.

  23. DanC says:

    Private vehicles should pay a minimal charge to cross the bridge. BUT more simple connecting services should be put in place to link up the northern bus way. P.S. NOT ANOTHER BRIDGE, Tunnel please WITH rail.

  24. Carl says:

    by the time this report was started and written and published on here and by the time they decide to do anything, that $6 for a trip and the price of tunnel will mean nothing.

    love to know how much the price of it goes up by each day that passes.

    they world is running out of resources, the cost of living is going through the roof, and the government keeps putting things are needed in the “wait another 10 years” basket.

    maybe they are waiting to the myan cycle finishes, maybe they are scared the bridge or tunnel if started now will fall to bits next august?

    mean while, countries like China and the UAE keep building stuff and demanding more product.

    pushing the price of everything up.

    there is no way that we will get a tunnel or a bridge or whatever for the price they have set.

    toll or not, just bloody hurry up and do something.

    as my old man said, they have been all talk since the day the bridge opened.

    its a piss ant bridge compared to Sydney.

    he was only 5 or 6 when it was opened, people complained about it then, some 55 years later, nothing apart from some bs clip lanes has been done.


  25. The Trickster says:

    More of a joke still is the fact that to get across unless you’re using a vehicle with an internal combustion engine is essentially taxed now either by Fullers or Ritchies/NZ Bus. The other option is to take a 50km round trip.

    Thanks 1950′s planners - you boys were ‘whucked’.

  26. Nick R says:

    Carl, why should we just “bloody hurry up and do something?”. Just hurry up and waste five billion bucks on something that is not needed?

    Traffic volumes have been declining on the Harbour Bridge since the busway opened, so why the need for more road lanes if less people are driving. A couple more years of this and they can mark two of the bridge lanes for the busway, and that can see us through to 2040 as the report says.

    With infinite money I’d love to see a tunnel built to bypass SH1 under the CBD and allow us to rehabilitate the mess through St Marys Bay, but with traffic volumes declining and a five billion price tag it is a ludicrous proposal.
    If they really need extra transport capacity let’s start with the far cheaper rail tunnel.

  27. Carl says:

    Nick R -

    where did i mention anything about more road lanes?

    I hate cars, I hate consuming overseas bought fuel that builds economies of other countries.

    I don’t own a car purely because of that fact.

    I am talking about building a rail / tram or bus link.

    I live in Perth, a city about the same size as Auckland.

    We are years ahead here, its a actually annoying that a City like Auckland that I want to move back to, is so far behind.

    National wont build a tunnel or a bridge, neither will labour.

    the point is instead of years and years of talk, DO something NOW.

    awesome they built a loop tram, on the scale of bloody useless to “awe that looks danty doesn’t”

    it rocks up at both ends with a perfect ten.

    tourist trap? there is nothing to see on that loop, rugby tourists aren’t going to use it, they came from cities where trams / light rail actually service a purpose.

    and getting old trams? WHAT was the point of that? awesome for motat, not for a 21st Century city, and don’t compare it to melbourne, their old trams actually service useful routes. routes that actually have a start and end point.

    someone needs to do something, more than what is happening now to secure the future of everybody.

    not just 10-15 years down the track, I’m talking about 10-100 years ahead.

    if they aren’t going to, then change a lane on the bridge to allow trains or light rail to go across.

    Time it so that only one trains goes across at a time, with the lack of trains in the city at the moment, pretty sure that isn’t to hard to do. I’m also sure removing a lane from car service isn’t not going to cause a issue, if you think traffic car numbers are going down.

    Look what they did in Seoul,

    (http://vimeo.com/2898463) its only short, real version is about 30 mins.

    They removed a whole motorway system, forced people to come to the city in a different way, gave the city back its soul.

    its what this place needs! people need to learn you should leave your car at home and take the train / bus or a tram / light rail to work.

    its like here in Perth, the amount of idjots that drive around in these SUV’s, none of them see the light of day outside the city, what is the point of consuming all that gas?

    park it up and get the train to the city! and give up the hang ups about stinky old buses.

    invite people, don’t feed them bullshit, show them the truth.


  28. Nick R says:

    Sorry Carl, I read your post as advocating building a tolled ‘bridge or tunnel’ as soon as possible, I.e a motorway crossing.
    I would go as far as to suggest even a rail tunnel isn’t needed for a couple of decades yet (there are much greater rail priorities in Auckland), a little more priority for the busway and it could handle all growth in peak travel for years yet. Off peak, well the existing eight lanr freeway is more than enough.

  29. Martin says:

    @ Carl, Living in Cardiff and weekly driving to London for meetings the toll now is closer to £6. It does irritate many people in England and Wales as the tolls collected are funnelled off to France, completely out of the British Economy.
    Personally I’m all for the $6-8 as well as a congestion charge as that will get more people in Auckland within a 10km radius of Queen Street onto public transport, thus further supporting the Council’s estimated growth in PT to justify rail to the shore, Auckland AP, the CBD tunnel and hey maybe even the Southdown link!


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