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What is a special vehicle lane?

Special vehicle lanes include transit lanes (e.g. high-occupancy motor vehicle lanes (T2 or T3)), priority bypass lanes (a motorway onramp designed to bypass ramp signals for qualifying vehicles, eg T2 and truck lanes) and bus lanes. 

What is an electric vehicle?

Under the definition in the Land Transport (Road User) Rule, an electric vehicle is a vehicle that is wholly or partly powered by a battery which is charged by plugging into an external source of electricity.

Conventional hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius or Honda Civic Hybrid, that cannot plug-in are not electric vehicles.

When will electric vehicles be allowed in special vehicle lanes long-term?

The Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017 and changes to the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 and Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices 2004 enable road controlling authorities, such as councils and the Transport Agency, to make bylaws allowing electric vehicles to use suitable special vehicle lanes.

It is up to individual road controlling authorities to make suitable special vehicle lanes available to electric vehicles by making bylaws. 

What is the Transport Agency doing to allow electric vehicles in special vehicle lanes?

The Transport Agency undertook viability assessments of all special vehicle lanes on Auckland’s state highways (roads for which the Transport Agency is the road controlling authority), taking into account potential safety issues and impacts on traffic flow and public transport. These assessments revealed that 11 special vehicle lanes would be suitable for electric vehicle use following the legislative changes.

On 7 September 2017, the Transport Agency enacted a bylaw that allows electric vehicles access to 11 priority bypass lanes in Auckland for a 12-month trial. 

This year-long trial follows a two week trial allowing electric vehicles access to five on-ramps in Auckland in March 2017.

The Transport Agency will continue to assess other special vehicle lanes on state highways for suitability for use by electric vehicles in the future.

What did the initial trial on five lanes in Auckland in March find?

The 14 day trial, enabling electric vehicles access to five lanes in Auckland in March, provided the Transport Agency a greater understanding of operational requirements going forward as well as qualitative information relating to the value of the incentive to electric vehicle drivers.

Prior to this trial, information packs were sent to Auckland-based electric vehicle owners listed on the motor vehicle register asking them to fill in a survey. Seventy-eight percent of respondents stated that access to the priority bypass lanes improved their journey time, with 94 percent stating that if additional special vehicle lanes were made available to electric vehicle drivers they would use them long-term.

More information (external link)

Why is the Transport Agency undertaking a 12 month trial?

The 12 month trial will allow the Transport Agency to monitor the impact that electric vehicles in special vehicle lanes have on highway productivity and continue to assess the viability of additional lanes.

How will the trial be monitored?

The Transport Agency will partner with the Auckland Motorway Alliance to monitor the performance of the 11 lanes for the duration of the trial. This continuous monitoring will form the basis of an evaluation at the trial’s conclusion.

What are the legal requirements to allow electric vehicles into special vehicle lanes?

Road controlling authorities may make specific bylaws in order to enable electric vehicles access to special vehicle lanes.

Why are electric vehicles only allowed in 11 lanes?

Following a viability assessment of special vehicle lanes on state highways (roads for which the Transport Agency is the road controlling authority), the Transport Agency identified 11 lanes it considered to be suitable for electric vehicles, based on:

  • minimising the potential for causing confusion and harm and
  • safe lane entry and exit.

What special vehicle lanes are electric vehicles allowed to use?

The proposed special vehicle lanes are listed here [PDF, 1022 KB].

These lanes will be marked by with appropriate signs and road markings as required throughout the lane. 

How will I know what special vehicle lanes electric vehicles are allowed access to?

All special vehicle lanes that electric vehicles are allowed to use will be marked with appropriate signs and road markings as required throughout the lane.

Transit Heavy Vehicle Lane sign

Transit T2 Heavy Vehicle / EV Lane sign

Who can participate in the trial?

Anyone driving an electric vehicle can participate in the trial.

To help other motorists identify the vehicle as electric, in September 2017, the Transport Agency sent an information pack, including an ‘EV’ identification sticker, to all electric vehicle owners on the motor vehicle register.

Owners were asked to place the sticker on the rear of their vehicle to help motorists and emergency and other services, such as tow truck drivers, easily identify that it is an electric vehicle.

If an electric vehicle owner has not received a sticker they are able to request one by emailing evprogramme@nzta.govt.nz.

Electric Vehicle sign

EV sticker

How will the trial affect me?

If you drive an electric vehicle you will be able to use specified priority bypass lanes as outlined in the bylaw.
If you currently use the lanes specified in the bylaw you may see a slight increase in traffic in those lanes. Other drivers should see no or minimal difference in traffic volume.

How will the Transport Agency make sure that drivers use the lanes correctly?

Existing traffic devices used to signal the beginning and end of the transit lane will be updated to include electric vehicles.  All drivers are responsible for complying with road signs and markings at all times and failing to do so may result in enforcement action being taken.  

Will electric vehicles be allowed in bus lanes?

The Transport Agency is allowing electric vehicles access to the northbound Upper Harbour Highway bus-only onramp.

There are no other bus lanes considered suitable for electric vehicle access at this time.

EV and Bus Only sign

Bus and EV only lane sign

Will single occupancy electric vehicles be allowed in the proposed special vehicle lanes?

The bylaw allows electric vehicles access to specified special vehicles lanes regardless of how many occupants are in that vehicle.

The purpose of Government’s Electric Vehicle Programme is to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Allowing electric vehicles access to viable special vehicle lanes will help encourage New Zealanders to decide that their next car will be an electric vehicle, reducing emissions that come from the country’s vehicle fleet.

How will the trial incentivise electric vehicle uptake?

Enabling electric vehicles access to special vehicle lanes may shorten journey times for electric vehicle drivers.

Will electric vehicles still be allowed in specified special vehicle lanes when they outnumber other vehicles?

Road controlling authorities constantly measure the efficiency of roads, and make changes to achieve optimal productivity.

The Transport Agency will use a set of performance metrics to monitor the lanes considered suitable for use by electric vehicles. These will give the Transport Agency an early indication if the lane or wider network is, or could be, negatively affected, and it may reassess the optimal use for that lane.

Is it legal to have electric vehicles in special vehicle lanes?

It is illegal for electric vehicles to access special vehicles lanes that not part of this trial unless they qualify for T2, T3 or truck lanes.

How do I find out more?

For more information email evprogramme@nzta.govt.nz

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