Traffic volumes on Auckland's Northern Gateway Toll Road will increase significantly during the Christmas holidays and the NZ Transport Agency says drivers should buy their tolls on-line before travelling to get the most effective benefit from the highway and avoid delays.
On average, the total number of vehicles using the toll road Monday to Friday in November totalled 70,000. By comparison, we are expecting trips in the week leading up to Christmas to reach over 84,000 with the week after New Years getting as high as 101,000 trips.
"State Highway 1, including the toll road, is an extremely busy route between Auckland and Northland during the Christmas holidays and people can reduce their chances of being held up if they pay their tolls before leaving home," says the NZTA's Regional Director for Auckland and Northland, Stephen Town. "The toll road was designed and built so that people have the choice of not having to stop and queue to pay at the manual kiosks."
The NZTA will have manual kiosks operating at the BP service station at Silverdale for those driving north, and two for southbound drivers at Puhoi. The northbound kiosks handled up to 1200 transactions a day last Christmas, and the southbound ones up to1000 transactions.
"Queuing is likely to occur at the kiosks, and depending on the time of day, there could be long waits before it is your turn," Mr Town says.
Toll charges are $4 per trip for heavy vehicles, and $2 per trip for light vehicles, cars and motorcycles.
PFor as little as $20, people can open a 'set and forget' account that is topped up automatically. Other payment options are the kiosks, and the NZTA's call centre at 0800 40 20 20. The call centre is open between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, but will be closed at weekends and on statutory holidays.
The NZTA reminds drivers that additional charges apply to tolls paid at the kiosks or through the call centre to better reflect the cost of administering those payment options. An administration fee of $3.70 per transaction applies to tolls bought through the call centre (a single trip for a car would cost $5.70 and ten trips would cost $23.70), and a fee of 40 cents applies for trips bought at the kiosks (a single trip for a car would cost $2.40, and ten trips would cost $20.40). There is no administration fee for trips bought on-line.
Drivers have up to five days after using the toll road to pay.
"But remember, if you are away for more than five days you will need to pay before you travel or ensure you can pay for your tolls online while you are away," Mr Town says.
The NZTA has two alternative free routes for people who do not want to use the toll road. One is along the Hibiscus Coast Highway between Puhoi, Orewa and the Silverdale interchange on SH1, and the other is rural SH16 between Auckland and Wellsford.