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Auckland electric vehicle special lane access trial gets go-ahead

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Consultation on the NZ Transport Agency’s Auckland Electric Vehicle Trial Bylaw closed last month and a summary of feedback has been published online.

After reviewing all responses, the Transport Agency has confirmed that the trial will go ahead in March as planned, allowing electric vehicles access to five special vehicle lanes on state highways in Auckland for a two week period, from March 6 to March 20.

“The NZ Transport Agency is working to support the Government’s aim of significantly increasing the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Providing incentives to encourage electric vehicle uptake is an important component of the Government’s Electric Vehicle Programme, and enabling road controlling authorities to allow electric vehicles in special vehicle lanes is one of those incentives,” says Transport Agency Group Manager for Planning and Investment Robert Brodnax.

The Ministry of Transport is currently working on proposed legislative and road rule changes that would enable road controlling authorities, including local and regional councils, the Transport Agency and other organisations such as the Department of Conservation, to allow electric vehicles into special vehicle lanes. These changes are expected to take effect on 1 July 2017. 

“Before new legislation and road rules come into force, it’s important that we test the concept of allowing electric vehicles into specific special vehicle lanes and gauge the impact on road users,”explains Mr Brodnax.

“While some of the feedback on the bylaw focused on the impact of allowing electric vehicles to use bus lanes, this trial only provides access to priority bypass lanes, which allow vehicles faster access to motorways. The trial does not include allowing electric vehicle access to bus lanes,” says Mr Brodnax.

During the consultation phase, one lane originally cited as part of the trial underwent further assessment and was deemed not currently suitable for electric vehicle access.

Following expected legislative changes, it will be up to individual road controlling authorities to decide on a case by case basis whether or not to allow electric vehicles access to individual special vehicle lanes - which include transit, priority bypass, high occupancy vehicle lanes and bus lanes.

The Transport Agency will use the motor vehicle register to identify owners of electric vehicles in the Auckland region, who will then receive an information pack in late February including a sticker they must use to identify the vehicle if they wish to participate in the trial.

More information, including a summary of feedback can be found here.

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