This page provides information about the underlying policy of the road user charges system, reviews and subsequent evaluations.

The road user charges system

The legislation that provides for road user charges system was updated in 2012. The Road User Charges Act 2012(external link) simplified and modernised the road user charges (RUC) system. The changes were the most significant updates to the road user charges system since it was introduced in 1978. The changes made the system easier to understand and fairer for all those who pay road user charges. 

The overall purpose of the changes was to:

  • continue the road user charges system by imposing charges on non-petrol vehicles (RUC vehicles) for their use of the roads that are in proportion to the costs that the vehicles generate
  • modernise and simplify the road user charges system
  • improve compliance with, and the recovery of, road user charges
  • establish a framework for the electronic management of road user charges

The changes included:

  • each vehicle having its own permanent RUC weight
  • removal of the time licence system
  • simplifying the list of vehicles exempt from paying road user charges
  • improvements to the system to enable greater compliance
  • a framework for the electronic management system of road user charges
  • fairer offences and penalties especially for light diesel vehicles

The changes reduced compliance costs and simplified administration. It also allowed the NZ Transport Agency to take greater advantage of electronic technology for the administration and collection of road user charges. The changes also removed several evasion opportunities and encourage timely payment.

The Road User Charges Act 2012 empowers the making of regulations to support the implementation of the legislation. Click here to find out about its regulations, including exemptions from road user charges.

 Cabinet papers on the changes:

Further information on the changes:

Road User Charges Review Group 2009

The Road User Charges Review Group conducted an independent review of the road user charges system in 2009. The review:

  • examined how the Ministry of Transport’s cost allocation model distributes road costs
  • considered the merits of collecting revenue from diesel vehicles by way of road user charges, compared to potential alternative methods (for example, a diesel tax).

The review considered the introduction of a diesel tax but determined that road user charges continue to be the most appropriate charging system for diesel vehicles. The review also identified the opportunity to further harness technology, for example, an electronic collection system, and other administrative changes to reduce compliance costs and evasion.

Documents relating to the Road User Charges Review Group:

Reports commissioned by the Road User Charges Review Group:

Subsequent evaluations

2013 evaluation of the Road User Charges Act 2012

The 2013 evaluation by Allen & Clarke (August 2013) investigated early progress towards the objectives of the changes, comparing the effectiveness of the modernised and previous systems, and investigating whether any further adjustments are necessary. The evaluation found changes to the road user charges system had been relatively successful in creating greater equity, and that based on both industry and government perceptions, the new road user charges system has more integrity than the previous one.

2014 evaluation of the Road User Charges Act 2012

The second stage evaluation included a particular focus on how the road user charges system works for light diesel vehicles. The evaluators found that light diesel vehicles owners have relatively limited knowledge of the road user charges system and identified that it is common for this group to overrun the distance covered by their road user charges licences.

2016 evaluation of the Road User Charges Act 2012

As the final cycle of evaluation, the project took a summative approach, aiming to make definitive judgments on the success (or otherwise) of the changes made by the Road Charges Act 2012.