process of councils consulting on and adopting their long-term plans has
concluded. Long-term plans are councils’ 10-year budgets which are renewed
every three years. The themes of emissions and climate change, environment,
infrastructure, COVID-19 impacts and recovery have been consistent across the
plans, with rates rises remaining a contentious issue for ratepayers. Some
commentators have expressed their amazement as to how easily councils can
increase rates – often significantly – with negligible to no pushback from those
who pay them.
long-term plans, regional councils and Auckland Transport have also adopted
their respective regional land transport plans (RLTPs). RLTPs lay out a
region’s land transport objectives, policies, priorities and measures for at
least 10 years. They include capital as well as operational spending and
identify a range of projects, but as the saying goes, the devil is in the
detail. Some much bigger and potentially contentious projects, even projects without
confirmed funding, can be timed for later years and then again pushed out in
the following iteration resulting in a vicious cycle.
case of Auckland, a decision to introduce congestion charging will have
significant implications for the RLTP; not only will there be a need for
infrastructure to establish and run a pricing scheme, but increased investment
will also be needed to cater for the increased mode shift that will result from
congestion charging. The newly adopted RLTP does not include the cost of
implementing congestion pricing.
Parliament’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee is undertaking an inquiry
into congestion pricing in Auckland at the request of Transport Minister
Hon Michael Wood. We made a high-level submission in May. The select
committee is expected to report back later this year.