Paying to use the Transmission Gully motorway is creeping closer to reality after the Transport Minister was warned the $852 million road could make driving too attractive.
A briefing document from the New Zealand Transport Agency to Transport Minister Phil Twyford, released to Stuff under the Official Information Act, recommended he green-light investigation of a Transmission Gully toll to "shape demand" for the new four-lane expressway when it opens in 2020.
Mr Twyford has since confirmed he gave the recommendation his blessing. This signals a significant lane-change for the Labour Party, which did not publicly support the idea of a toll when it was in Opposition.
The Transport Agency briefing document says tolling the 27-kilometre gully motorway would help make the main commuter route between Wellington and Kāpiti more "mode neutral", meaning everyone does not simply drive.
The document said "Tolls could counter the perceived cost reductions of travelling by road." and tolls were an important part of the transport agency's toolkit because they provided an extra source of revenue.
They were also useful for transitioning New Zealand towards a more "responsive" pricing system.