Volume absorbs toll increase

The latest Route K toll road usage figures show overall traffic volumes are recovering from toll increases that came into effect on July 1.

Route K truck usage has recovered from the new tolls the city council introduced at the end of June, the latest figures show.

Car tolls rose from $1.50 to $2, heavy motor vehicles from $4 to $5. Twin axle trucks rose from $1.50 to $5.

Cars drivers have reacted to the 50 cent increase with volumes dropping from 4,223 in June before the toll increase took effect to 3,675 in July and 3,683 in August 2014. The car per day figures for the same three months in 2013 were 3,839, 3951 and 3959.

Councillor Rick Curach says the monthly figures show a 14 per cent drop in the car category caused by the toll increase.

Car numbers show an average 9 per cent growth in the first six months of 2014 compared with the same six month period in 2013.

“So if the toll remained the same for July and August 2014 then the car count would have been around 135,000 - but due to the toll increase, it is down to around 114,000,” says Rick.

“Therefore the drop seen in July and Aug 2014, due to the toll increase, is actually around 15.5 per cent.”

One figure that does not reflect pre toll increase rhetoric is the twin axle truck numbers.

Their daily figures show an unexplained peak in July. Twin axle truck numbers per day went from 60 in June, to 109 in July when the toll increased, and dropped back to 54 in August. Last year’s figures over the same three months were 50, 47, and 48.

Truck Driver Sean Spalding promised a twin axle truck boycott of the new tolls, but the figures do not show that. Sean was unable to be contacted. Whether twin axle truck numbers will continue to be counted now they pay the same tolls as the three axle vehicles is not known.

Council’s Transportation Manager, Martin Parkes, says the slight decline in daily traffic volumes is broadly within the scenarios described to councillors during the Route K Toll Bylaw amendment process in February 2014.

Financial modelling at that time suggested a 10 per cent decline may occur following the toll increases, with recovery over a three-year period. Data from July and August following the toll increase indicates that full recovery may well occur within six months.

The city council’s previous classification by axle numbers allowed ten tonne trucks to pay the same as cars because they have the same number of axles, and has changed in line with the national standards which rates any vehicle requiring a class 2 licence or more as a heavy motor vehicle. Trailers are still free.


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