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Toll roads for Auckland?

The mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, is suggesting ways to stop traffic jams on motorways. He had two suggestions: an increase in rates and petrol prices or a road toll of $2. The increases would be 0.9% extra in rates and 1.2c extra for petrol for 10 years. The money would be used for improving public transport and for building some local roads.

Most Aucklanders would agree that the traffic during the rush hours on motorways is terrible. People get very frustrated as they sit in their cars which move very slowly or not at all. What a waste of time and money! It is also very stressful. What is the answer?

The mayor thinks that a toll would make people choose an alternative route to work or an alternative method of transport. However, buses also get caught up in this traffic so they don’t move fast either. Alternative roads are busy too.

There are some trains and Aucklanders are now using trains much more than ever before. However, many areas do not have a railway line. Auckland is a difficult city for public transport as it is very spread out, with houses a long way from railway lines in many areas.

The Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges, said that any money from motorways belongs to the taxpayer, not to Auckland city because the government built the motorways. Also cities can’t increase petrol taxes. That is the job of the government not a city.

Vocabulary

• rates – property taxes, home owners pay rates to the city
• frustrated – feeling of being helpless, nothing you can do about a bad problem
• alternative – another choice
• get caught up in – can’t escape, can’t move

Questions

1. Why is it a waste of money being stuck in a traffic jam?
2. Some cities like London and Singapore have a congestion tax. Drivers pay to enter the city during the day. Would a congestion tax be a better idea?
3. Aucklanders – and in fact New Zealanders – have a love affair with their cars. Is this why they don’t use public transport?
4. Is cycling a realistic option for Auckland?