The NZ Transport Agency is putting toll road evaders on notice, with preparations underway to take prosecutions against drivers with the highest levels of debt for non-payment of tolls on Auckland's Northern Gateway Toll Road.
The NZTA's National Toll Manager, Andy Thackwray, says the agency initially plans to target five individuals who owe a combined $9,420 in unpaid tolls and administration charges.
Mr Thackwray says the agency is preparing the paperwork to get prosecutions underway in the next three to four months.
"The toll road has been open for more than three years, and overall we have a compliance rate of almost 96 per cent, which is among the highest in the world. But a small minority of repeat toll evaders decline to use the range of payment options available to them and are flouting the law. This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue," says Mr Thackwray.
"These prosecutions are the right thing to do, both to send a message to other toll evaders and in the interests of fairness for the vast majority of drivers who enjoy the benefits of the road and who pay their tolls on time."
The highest levels of unpaid tolls are:
The NZTA's decision to take action has been welcomed by the Automobile Association.
"Those motorists rorting the system are about to get a very clear message that their behaviour is unacceptable. These prosecutions are welcomed by all the law-abiding motorists who do pay their tolls," says the AA's Auckland transport spokesman, Simon Lambourne.
The toll road is a seven kilometre-long section of State Highway 1 which provides road users with a shorter, quicker option to its free alternative - SH17 through Orewa and Waiwera. Borrowing $158m of the total $372.5m construction cost allowed the highway to be built ten years earlier than it would have been under traditional funding methods. Tolls are used to repay the funds borrowed, and at the end of December 2011, the NZTA had repaid $17.5m.
The latest six monthly report, to 31 December 2011, shows that almost 96 percent of people who use the road pay their tolls on time. This figure is above the NZTA's expected rate of 91 percent and a world-wide industry standard of 90 percent. The report is now available on-line at www.tollroad.govt.nz(external link)