The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has announced that electric vehicles (EVs) will be allowed to use 11 priority bypass lanes on state highways in Auckland for a year-long trial, starting this month.
The Transport Agency is working to support the government’s aim of significantly increasing the uptake of EVs in New Zealand to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Recent changes to the country’s Land Transport Rules have enabled road controlling authorities, such as the NZTA and local and regional councils, to create bylaws allowing EVs to use special vehicle lanes, such as transit lanes.
As the body in control of the national network, the Transport Agency has undertaken viability assessments of all special vehicle lanes on Auckland’s state highways, taking into account potential safety issues and impacts on traffic flow and public transport. Following these assessments, 11 lanes were found to be suitable for the 12-month trial, during which lane performance will be monitored.
Work to prepare the selected lanes with the required signs and road markings will commence in the next week, with all lanes expected to be open to EVs by the end of the month. EV owners listed on the motor vehicle register will receive an information pack about the trial, including a special sticker for their vehicle that will help other motorists easily identify that the car is electric.
For the purposes of the trial, the NZTA defines an EV as a vehicle that is partly or wholly powered by a battery that can be charged by connecting to an external source of electricity. Conventional hybrids that cannot plug-in are not eligible to use the special vehicle lanes allocated for EV use.
“Encouraging more New Zealanders to choose an EV for their daily transport needs, rather than conventional diesel or petrol vehicles, is an important step in reducing the amount of emissions produced by our vehicle fleet,” explained Harry Wilson, NZTA director of safety and environment.
“Giving EV drivers the opportunity to use select bypass lanes on motorway on-ramps, providing faster access to the motorway and reducing travel times, is one of a number of incentives to increase EV uptake. While the Transport Agency will continue to assess lanes on state highways for suitability for EV access, it will be up to local and regional councils to decide on a case by case basis whether or not to allow EVs to access individual special vehicle lanes on local roads.”