The West

Pay-to-enter city an insult, says mayor
Pay-to-enter city an insult, says mayor

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has criticised a proposal to introduce a congestion charge in Perth, saying it is an insult to the city.

Economic advisory group Committee for Economic Development of Australia released a paper on Monday saying a congestion charge, where motorists pay a fee to enter the CBD during peak times, should be introduced in Perth to combat traffic.

The paper said the cost of congestion in Perth would reach $2.1 billion by 2020 and would significantly hinder the city's economic development.

Yesterday, Ms Scaffidi criticised CEDA economists responsible for the paper, arguing they had an "out-of-town" perspective and "little understanding" of Perth's traffic issues.

"I am actually quite shocked. This kind of commentary shows no thinking and I feel they have tanked with this one," she said..

"Perth no longer needs wise men from the east suggesting they know what is best for our city.

"Let's put it out there clearly -- the City of Perth is vehemently against this. While we do need to encourage drivers to consider car pooling, use of more public transport and even the altering of our peak periods through a variety of measures, a congestion tax is just not a consideration."

CEDA chief economist Nathan Taylor said solutions to congestion should be debated widely.

"I lived in Perth for more than five years between 2006 and 2011, so have seen first-hand the increasing problem of congestion," he said.

"The paper examined the option of congestion charging because it is one method that has been used successfully elsewhere to deal with this issue and could work well in Perth, but the bigger issue here is the importance of generating discussion and debate on the issue of congestion in Perth, rather than ignoring the problem.

"If this growing issue is not dealt with now it will become unmanageable and extremely costly for Perth businesses and residents."

WA Greens transport spokeswoman Lynn MacLaren said it was unfair to charge additional fees for access to the CBD when the public transport system was "creaking at the seams".

"Price-based incentives work only if people have the capacity to adjust their behaviour," she said.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell and shadow minister Ken Travers have refused to support the pay-to-enter concept.

The West Australian

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