A two week NZ Transport Agency trial gets underway on Monday, which will allow electric vehicle drivers access to five priority bypass lanes in Auckland.
From 6 to 20 March, electric vehicle drivers will be given the opportunity to use specific on-ramps which will provide faster access to the motorway, reducing travel times.
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. NZ Transport Agency Group Manager for Planning and Investment Robert Brodnax says opening up special vehicle lanes is one of a number of incentives under the Government’s Electric Vehicle programme.
“The programme is designed to encourage more people to choose an electric vehicle over a conventional diesel or petrol vehicle for their daily transport needs, thereby reducing greenhouse emissions.”
The Ministry of Transport is currently consulting 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,” says Mr Brodnax.
“The NZ Transport Agency is also currently assessing which special vehicle lanes on the state highway network may be suitable for electric vehicles following legislative changes; this includes looking at safety, lane entry and exit, current and future traffic flow, and the impact on public transport.”
An electric vehicle, for the purpose of this trial and the proposed legislative changes, is a vehicle that is wholly or partly fuelled by a battery that is charged by connecting to an electric power supply. All vehicles participating in the trial will be identified by an “EV” sticker and the five onramps will be marked with a sign at the start of the lane.
The Auckland trial is also limited to providing access for electric vehicles to priority bypass lanes, and the trial does not allow electric vehicles to use bus lanes.
Following the 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 and bus lanes.
The bylaw enabling the trial will be revoked on 21 March 2017.