The NZTA has announced that it is changing the machines that some people use to pay for the Orewa to Puhoi toll road to accept coins only citing reliability issues with the note and card options.
The NZ Transport Agency says it is converting the Northern Gateway Toll Road manual kiosks at the Dairy Flats service centre to accept payment by coin-only in order to reduce the risk of kiosk breakdowns and shorten queuing times at busy periods.
The changes will take effect from Wednesday 4 September.
Stephen Town, the Transport Agency’s Regional Director for Auckland and Northland, says moving to a coin-only at the two Dairy Flat machines will standardise payment options at both ends of the toll road, following the change to coin-only in mid-2011 for the manual kiosks at Puhoi.
“It’s more than four years since the toll road opened, and more than 90 percent of drivers are now choosing non-cash payment options that don’t require them to stop and interrupt their trip. The roadside kiosks are now an old technology, spare parts are no longer available, and the cost of maintaining them is rising,” Mr Town says
“The majority of faults involve the bank note and card payment options. Breakdowns leave people frustrated, and that is something we want to eliminate by making the machines coin-only and streamlining the payment process.”
An average 5 million trips are undertaken each year on the toll road. The number of people paying for trips at the kiosks has declined from around 30% when the toll road opened in January 2009 to less than 10% of all trips between July-December 2012. (Cash purchases accounted for approximately 8% of kiosk transactions during that 6 month period).
People will still be able to buy single or multiple trips when the Dairy Flat kiosks become coin-only next month.
Buying trips at www.tollroad.govt.nz remains the best option for casual and regular travellers because they do not need to stop before using the highway and no administration charge applies.
For those travellers who still prefer to pay manually, however, the Transport Agency will have staff on duty at the Dairy Flat Centre service station for the first few days to help make the switch to coin-only kiosks as smooth as possible.
“We hope the coin-only kiosks will operate more reliably and make journeys a little more enjoyable for those who like to pay their tolls this way,” says Mr Town.
As the NZTA say, only 8% of people are now paying using these machines so it shouldn’t affect too many people. I must say though, I have always found it weird and incredibly stupid that people would exit the motorway to pay the toll. The reason for that is the amount of time that people take to do this is about how long it would take them just to stay on the motorway and then use the old free route. This is even more so as the cash payment options cost 40c more per trip.
On a similar note, while the number of people paying using the kiosks declined, a significant number still use the old route for what I’m sure are a variety of reasons. The NZTA used to release the traffic volume data for both routes monthly however at the beginning of this year they stopped doing so as they handed the road over to Auckland Transport. Before the monitoring stopped around 28% of all traffic was using the free route. I assume the traffic counters are still in the road so it would be handy if Auckland Transport could start releasing the traffic volumes monthly like the NZTA do.