Congestion charging could be needed in Tauranga

Projections show congestion in Tauranga is set to double in the next 10 years. File photo: SunLive.

The current funding model for transport infrastructure is “not going to cut it” and congestion charges may be needed in Tauranga.

Commissioner Stephen Selwood made those comments at the Tauranga City Council Strategy, Finance and Risk Committee meeting on Monday.

The funding needed for transport infrastructure over the next 20 years was $10 billion but modelling showed there would only be $3.5b coming in, leaving a $6.5b gap, said Selwood. 

“We know that Waka Kotahi, their tank is empty in terms of their funding.”

“The current funding mechanisms of relying on rates increases, general taxation increases or fuel and excise tax increases are not going to cut it.

“Either we invest in our transport infrastructure and find alternative ways of raising the revenue to do that.

“Or we don't invest at the rate required, which means that congestion will get much worse than it is today.”

Selwood said SmartTrip variable road pricing (congestion charges) were one way to pay for it.

Commissioner Stephen Selwood said current funding models for roads were not going to cut it. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Current projections showed congestion would double in the next 10 years, he said.

Also if transport infrastructure wasn’t invested in it would constrain land for housing.

“We’ll end up paying in both congestion and therefore lack of productivity and we'll end up paying ever increasing house prices. That's basically the choice in front of us.

“It's really important that we have a grown and adult conversation with the community so they understand the realities.”

If this didn’t happen there would be an “uninformed view” the council just needed to spend the money it had better and do the work, despite the funding not being there, said Selwood.

The council consulted on whether to investigate congestion charges further as part of the 2024-34 long-term plan (LTP).

Variable road pricing would replace the current tolls on the Takitimu Northern Link (TNL) and the Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL). Pricing would change based on the time of day and where people were accessing the road network from.

One concept showed the priced network would include the state Highway ring around the Te Papa Peninsula (SH2, SH29, SH29A), SH2 and TNL from Te Puna, and the TEL.

A concept plan for Tauranga congestion charges, with the priced roads in red. Photo: Tauranga City Council.

When the decision was made to consult on road pricing at a council meeting last year, Waka Kotahi warned that “economic catastrophe and terrible wellbeing for communities” would occur if the charges weren’t implemented.

At Monday’s meeting, commission chair Anne Tolley said the council had done a good job of convincing governments about Tauranga’s need for major transport investment but hadn’t done as good a job with the community, based on LTP submissions.

Putting the big road projects aside, local roads relied on 50 percent funding from central government and the rest from rates, said Tolley.

This meant any projects the community wanted the onus was on ratepayers to fund it and central government needed to be convinced to pay the rest, whilst Tauranga competed with other councils for funding, she said.

“Metro councils are all competing with one another and yet we all have the same growing populations and these massive needs.”

Funding either came from rates and taxes or the council found a better way to fund transport infrastructure, said Tolley.

“Congestion charging and better contributions from tolling, and managing the asset in a much better way have to be considered.”

Commission chair Anne Tolley said every city was competing for government infrastructure funding. Photo: Alisha Evans/ SunLive.

The previous and current government had come to the conclusion that petrol taxes were no longer going to be sufficient to fund infrastructure, she said.

 “Whenever there's a change of government, GPS [Government Policy Statement on land transport] changes, and Tauranga has suffered from that over the last decade.”

While there might not be the same level of funding there was for walking, cycling and public transport, these still needed to be invested in, said Tolley.

“Mode shift changes are going to have to be made because we are now a big city, we are not a provincial town.”

A law change would be needed to implement congestion charges, but cross party support is growing.

Long-term plan deliberations begin in March and the commission will decide whether or not to investigate congestion charging further.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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Say what??

Posted on 21-02-2024 17:15 | By Helo1

So they muck up the roads……royally, then make us pay for it!! Thanks a lot to the ‘experts'!

LOL, I have spoken

Posted on 21-02-2024 17:48 | By an_alias

The maybe, could be, what do you guys have to do it. We need congestion charges, since the is on the agenda for 15 minute cities.....we have to do it folks.
Look how clogged its got since we started doing all these jobs at the same time.
We got no idea how it got so congested but we need MONEY and YOURS WILL DO

Your concept targetting

Posted on 21-02-2024 17:50 | By an_alias

Is missing from the drive, you dont pay....
Might be time to turn the lights out if these clowns arent gone soon

More Pressure

Posted on 21-02-2024 19:09 | By Resident1

Congestion charging is all very well, but there should be alternatives offered such as Public Transport or alternative route. Most people who travel on these roads have no other option and charging would add to the pressure and financial wellbeing of these families.


Posted on 21-02-2024 19:33 | By Let's get real

More council misdirection.
They have caused all of the traffic problems with ridiculous ideology and now want to charge the victims with the crime.

You've got to be joking

Posted on 21-02-2024 21:38 | By Fernhill22

So now that TCC & the commissioners have completely ruined our city with their ridiculous roading ideas, they now want to charge us ratepayers a congestion charge to fix it. You have got to be joking!! Give me a bulldozer & a week or so, and I'm sure that I could rip out these bike lanes, unnecessary traffic lights, and open up the roads that they have closed off too. I think if you offered the residents of Tauranga a few beers, & some bottles of wine to help out that we could have things sorted in Greerton & Welcome Bay too. Whilst we're at it we will put back the car parks in town too. Instead of wasting $300m+ on a Civic Precinct that no-one wants, start spending the money on reverting our roads back to the way they were rather than clogging them up.

6 Years of under investment

Posted on 21-02-2024 21:49 | By Fernhill22

The situation that we now find ourselves in is due to the lack of investment from the previous government into infrastructure over these past 6 years. At a time when interest rates were low & borrowing was cheap, the government could have borrowed funds to push ahead with fixing NZ 's infrastructure. Unfortunately, we are now all paying the price for Jacinda's policies, and I can't think of anything to note that they actually improved or delivered. She has now ridden off into the sunset & left this country in an absolute mess which we will all be paying for. Now we are being asked to pay congestion charges to sort out the mess that has been left behind.

They are State Highways

Posted on 22-02-2024 09:36 | By an_alias

How can a local council take congestion charges when all the locations they list are STATE HIGHWAYS.
A state highway is not maintained by local council but GOVT ?
How about fix the roads and stop $1B on look at me glory jobs ?

Only Tauranga

Posted on 22-02-2024 11:59 | By Merlin

Only Tauranga has 2 toll roads one either side of the city and now want congestion charges.words fail me because they would not be published here.

Stop the Smarmy Condescention

Posted on 22-02-2024 11:59 | By Jules L

So now the commission has the nerve to tell us that we need to have: "a grown and adult conversation with the community so they understand the realities.” Their words are just dripping with condescension, suggesting that the paying public are just ignorant children needing a good talking to by the commission. This from a commission that lurches from failure to failure. If the money that we paid for roads was used for that purpose then there would not be a problem, but it isn't, it is siphoned off into wasteful and unused projects like cycle and bus-lanes. The congestion is being created entirely by the council and the commission, so why should we pay more so that they can create more congestion? Just use the money for what it is intended for instead.

Ignore Waka Kotahi

Posted on 22-02-2024 12:15 | By Jules L

So Waka Kotahi (or their legal name: New Zealand Transport Agency) said that there would be "economic catastrophe and terrible wellbeing" if Tauranga doesn't obey them and put in congestion charging did they? Well, the head of Waka Kotahi also recently gave a couple of speeches in which she outlined her priorities for State Highways, they included stopping the amount of travel on State Highways, promoting maori culture, promoting co-governance, making more money by issuing more traffic tickets, and promoting climate-change policies. There was nothing at all about improving the roads or reducing congestion, in fact quite the opposite. Waka Kotahi are actively destroying the highways that we pay them to improve. We should not be listening to a word that they say.


Posted on 22-02-2024 13:00 | By Duegatti

Most of the congestion I've seen has been as a result of TCC and NZTA actions.
Cameron Rd and the Bayview interchange as prime examples.
Not to mention the debacle that is the Greerton section of Cameron Rd. A classic example of theory overriding practical application.
If this money really has to be spent, which I doubt, then it's time for a poll tax.
Because as a ratepayer and vehicle user, I'm very tired of supporting those who contribute nothing, but moan the loudest.

Barmy, lunatics

Posted on 22-02-2024 13:44 | By nerak

aka TCC. To get to 2nd Ave from Cameron Rd going north, I now have to turn right into Elizabeth St, go around the first roundabout and turn left into Cameron Rd. Longer on the road, more congestion being added. What idiot thinks that's sensible. And what's with the bike lights at all ped crossings now?? What a waste of money that is. Especially when on 3 trips I have taken this week for someone who doesn't drive, and not seen ONE bike! TCC responsible for 90% of congestion, certainly got worse with their idiotic stuff ups.

Yes it’s a joke.

Posted on 22-02-2024 15:55 | By Shadow1

The Commission claims that Tauranga is a big city? What? We have a population of about 120,000? Singapore is a big city with a population of over 5 million. And they have congestion charges. The also have a fantastic metro and very cheap taxis. We don’t have that. What we do have is a council who refuse to carry out the normal practices such as tuning the traffic light sequences, putting bus stops behind the kerbs, putting cycle lanes in lesser used roads or, when possible completely away from the roads. A cycle highway in the Kopurererua Valley would allow a newly elected council to claw back much of the efficiency Cameron Road used to have and probably all the parking that has been lost.
Roll on July and goodbye Commission.

Ring Roads

Posted on 22-02-2024 17:43 | By Yadick

So they ring us in and charge us for going in and out . . .

'Have a grown and adult conversation' to cringingly quote a brainwashed kid - HOW DARE YOU.
You come into OUR city and destroy it and then talk to us like we're little kids.
Take your undeserved money and get out.

Probably Unlikely

Posted on 23-02-2024 00:46 | By R1Squid

I don't believe that any council or statutory commissioner is able to impose fees on National Infrastructure.
To Commissioner Selwood - Good Luck Trying!!

Just another tax

Posted on 23-02-2024 13:31 | By Kancho

A captive market for grabbing money as often there is no choice. There are insufficient alternatives or routes in Tauranga.
Buses are still time intensive to use and unreliable. It's nit possible to carry shopping or goods on a bus anyway. The only plus is that the commissioners have been very successful in making town a no go area and Cameron road a stop go Grid Lock


Posted on 23-02-2024 15:09 | By R1Squid

Is not possible if the Council don't own the assets. I doubt that any ratepayer will approve purchase of the State Highway assets from Government.

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