Scare Tactics


It was inevitable.
As soon as Auckland Mayor Len Brown talked about a congestion tax - hardly a radical idea as it’s in place in cities around the world - the motorists’ lobby group would complain.
But they have gone overboard this time with their scare tactics which are designed to make a clever 30-second TV and radio news sound bite which will become so repeated, it will become as fact.
Mayor Brown, naming the Auckland CBD Rail Link of National Significance, as the number one priority for the Auckland Plan suggested a congestion tax as something that should be canvassed.
The AA has issued a statement designed to scare the horses.

“According to the Ministry of Transport, the $2.4 billion City Centre Rail link would only remove 1,400 cars from the roads in the morning peak – that means the Council wants motorists to pay $1.7 million to remove each car!”

The City Centre Rail Link, while a good idea, will not actually benefit the Auckland motorists who are now be targeted to pay for it. That is why central government refused to pay for the City Centre Rail Link, and motorists won’t tolerate being treated as ATM machines for the same reason.

If the Council wants a City Centre Rail Link for reasons other than the number of cars it will take off the road, then someone else can pay for it – not the motorists… The $2 network charge being proposed could cost a regular motorway user $1000 a year in extra tax.”

Where do you start to counter such nonsense? You don’t because that would be acknowledging there’s some substance in it. At least we know definitely where the AA stands.

Saying motorists should not pay for rail infrastructure is  an interesting “road” to go down.

People who claim no car ownership could refuse to pay any taxes that go towards highways - and so on.

And of course the AA is saying more cars on the roads is good for the world. Taking cars off the road is bad.

Earlier AKT reported the estimate that a $1 charge on all vehicles entering the Auckland motorway system would raise $36 million a year, enough to service a loan of up to $5 billion.That could build a few rail loops!

AA says a CBD congestion charge is wqrong

I cancelled my AA membership after the last nonsensical statement from them.

On the other hand,  New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development Chief Executive Stephen Selwood.congratulated Mayor Brown for having the guts to at least raise it and think outside the square.

“We can choose not to lift transport funding, in which case we choose congestion, economic under-achievement and a decline in our standard of living. Or we can look at new ways to do things. The Auckland Council was established to tackle the big issues and no Auckland governance issue is bigger than transport funding. By giving Aucklanders an alternative to transport policies which we know have failed in the past, the Mayor is doing exactly what his position requires.”

He pointed out we could be looking at finding without enough government funding:

  • Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing - $5 billion
  •  CBD rail loop - $2.4 billion
  •  Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) - $1.5 billion.. so the Mayor is doing the right thing.




  1. Andrew says:

    Ready to cancel my membership too. Funny timing as my renewal form just arrived in the mail.

    What’s a good alternative to the AA for breakdown assistance? Any recommendations?

  2. John Dalley says:

    @Andrew. There is competition in this area as there is at least a couple of other companies in opposition to the AA.

  3. Luke says:

    $1000 a year, didnt know there were 500 working days in a year. Jeez the AA are clever aren’t they.
    Good on Len for raising this. Need to have a good investigation as to the feasibility, costs and benefits of a charge.
    There are only 20 entry points to the Auckland CBD so wont cost nearly as much a many other cities like London where they need 100s of cameras to catch everyone.

  4. Mike says:

    I think somebody here has their numbers wrong. “Earlier AKT reported the estimate that a $1 charge on all vehicles entering the Auckland motorway system would raise $36 million a year, enough to service a loan of up to $5 billion.That could build a few rail loops!”
    I think your out by a factor of 10. 36 Million would service a load of around 0.5 Billion.
    @ 500 million interest rate is 7.2%
    @ 5000 million interest rate would be 0.72%

    The AAs errors don’t look to bad by comparison. ;-)

  5. Matt L says:

    The thing the both the AA and the government are two stupid or ignorant to understand is that even with the rail tunnel there would still be a similar number of cars on the road as the numbers indicate but the benefit is that we would be shifting a lot more people at the same time i.e. where as now we might be able to get 100k people into the CBD at peak times, with the rail tunnel we might get 150k people in during that same time frame. Of course they would never admit that as they know that if people realised the truth the calls for the tunnel would only get louder.

    Another reason both the government and the AA don’t support any tolls or other charges is that while most people would still drive, there would be a lot for who it would be enough to push them over to using PT, this in turn would make PT more viable, increase the business case for the tunnel (even without the additional funding) and therefore lessen the amount of money spent on roads.

  6. Matt says:

    Even if it only went into general revenue, and not specifically to PT, I think tolls on the motorways are perfectly reasonable.

    Then of course needed PT infrastructure should be funded out of general revenue.

  7. richard says:

    I recently cancelled my AA membership
    They have become involved in so many things now that are beyond their original brief and do not provide the service in the traditional areas such as breakdown.

    Before Christmas I had two calls to AA. On the first occasion when my car broke down I was advised there was a two hour wait so arranged a tow truck myself. The second was an incident with a promised delay of an hour and a half. Fortunately I resolved the problem myself and cancelled the callout.

    AA are in financial arrangements obviously with traders. Several years ago my 18 month old battery failed and the AA patrolman started the engine and suggested a certain Battery Company for a good deal. I went to an auto electrician who identified an electrical assembly fault. The battery was sound.

    The Vehicle Testing station has a nation wide breakdown service which I have joined and the State Insurance operate a similar scheme.

    As a cyclist I find some of the AA opinions oppose my beliefs and wishes as well

  8. Jon Reevea says:

    The AA have clearly becoming the national party’s mouth piece, using data which has come from unreliable sources - MOT. i will cancel my membership whem it comes for renewal. Plenty of other breakdown services to choose from now.

  9. Robincole says:

    I think a lot of people are missing the main point of the CBD loop.Its to add capacity .The current set up with Britomart a deadend means the network has nearly reached capacity. The loop will take much more 1400 cars off the road because it will be possible to run far more trains.

  10. Mark says:

    For me the problem is with Len Brown’s approach. If you don’t put up something specific, you let others fill that gap.

    Congestion pricing is hard enough - and places like London have a different layout /type of business environment. Auckland only has 10% working in CBD - so why ping motorway uses who may not even be going there? Lodon doesn’t charge people for going a few exits around the M25.

    So to just raise it as a possible funding source, without putting forward a well thought out scheme is dangerous. There may well be a well designed system that could work, but it should be 90% thought through before it just gets thrown out there.

    People aren’t silly, they can see issues eg more traffci on local roads, is it flat fee whether your on for 1km or 50km - what time bands. Even the confusion between “congestion” ve fund raising.

    I support the rail loop, but it needs better political management, or it will be put at risk. Len Brown, can’t now stand back until next year for the 10yr plan, he needs to design the funding options now, or he will just get pummelled on it for a year.

  11. Ken Haydock says:

    Andrew, State Roadside rescue would be a good alternative to the AA.

  12. Feijoa says:

    I dropped my AA subscription long ago — they never consulted members on what they wanted but were happy to use the memberships to promote their backwards ideology.

    The reasonable-sounding Stephen Selwood at NZCID is a much better guy to have in the media than the dinosaur with the same name I used to help employ at the AA:
    AA doomsayers lose their way in roading plan
    I like the AAs new spokesman, but only because he (very revealingly) sounds so unconvincing when he repeats their 1950s agenda.


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