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Electric vehicles – special vehicle lanes

As part of the Government’s Electric Vehicle Programme(external link), measures in the Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017(external link) and changes to the Land Transport Rules(external link) enable road controlling authorities to make bylaws to allow electric vehicles into special vehicle lanes. 

Auckland trial

On 7 September 2017, the NZ Transport Agency enacted a bylaw allowing electric vehicles to use 11 priority bypass lanes (motorway onramps) on state highways in Auckland for a 12 month trial.

This bylaw will expire at midnight between 7-8 September 2018. From this date, electric vehicles are no longer able to use these priority lanes.

Survey to assess effectiveness

The Transport Agency carried out a survey of Auckland-based electric vehicle owners to evaluate the trial. 

In the survey, electric vehicles owners said the use of priority lanes wasn’t a significant factor in their decision to purchase an electric vehicle. That is, the trial didn’t have any significant impact on the uptake of electric vehicles.

Read the survey results

The Transport Agency is happy to share its experience and lessons learnt with other road controlling authorities.

Q&As about the trial 

What was the trial about?

The trial enabled electric vehicles to use 11 priority lanes on Auckland’s state highways for a period of 12 months. The NZ Transport Agency (Auckland Electric Vehicles – Phase 2 Trial) Bylaw 2017 started on 7 September 2017, and expires at midnight between 7-8 September 2018.

The intent of the trial was to test whether access to priority lanes might encourage the uptake of electric vehicle ownership.

Why were electric vehicles only allowed in 11 lanes?

Following a viability assessment of special vehicle lanes on state highways (roads for which the Transport Agency is the road controlling authority), the Transport Agency identified 11 lanes it considered to be suitable for electric vehicles, based on minimising the potential for causing confusion and harm; safe lane entry and exit.

What lanes were able to be used by electric vehicles?

The priority lanes were that had been able to be used were:

  • SH1, South Eastern Highway Penrose, Auckland Southern Motorway, northbound on-ramp
  • SH1, Mt Wellington, Auckland Southern Motorway, Mt Wellington Interchange, northbound on-ramp
  • SH20, Rimu Road, Mangere Bridge, Auckland Southwestern Motorway, northbound on-ramp
  • SH20, Coronation Road, Managere Bridge, Auckland Southwestern Motorway, northbound on-ramp
  • SH1, Upper Harbour Highway, Albany, Auckland Northern Motorway, Upper Harbour Highway Interchange, northbound on-ramp
  • SH1, Greville Road, Albany, Auckland Northern Motorway, Greville Road Interchange, southbound on-ramp
  • SH1, Constellation Drive, Glenfield, Auckland Northern Motorway, Upper Harbour Highway Interchange, southbound on-ramp
  • SH1, Hingaia Road Papakura, Auckland Southern Motorway, Papakura Interchange, northbound on-ramp
  • SH20, Onehunga Interchange, Auckland Southwestern Motorway, Onehunga Harbour Road, northbound on-ramp
  • SH16, Waterview Great North Road Interchange, Auckland Northwestern Motorway, eastbound Ramp 6
  • SH16, Waterview Great North Road Interchange, Auckland Northwestern Motorway, westbound Ramp 5.

How was the trial evaluated?
To evaluate the trial, the Transport Agency carried out a survey of 232 Auckland-based electric vehicle owners. Respondents were polled on:

  • the factors that influenced their decision to purchase an electric vehicle
  • their use and reliance on the priority lanes for their transport plans
  • their ideas on factors that would further encourage the uptake of electric vehicle ownership.

What did the trial find?
Through the survey, electric vehicle owners told us that, while being able to use the priority lanes was one of many benefits of having an electric vehicle, the use of priority lanes wasn’t a significant factor in the decision to purchase an electric vehicle.

That is, the trial didn’t have any significant impact on peoples’ decision to buy an electric vehicle as other benefits of having an electric vehicle were much stronger when it came to making the purchase decision.

September 2017-18 trial information

March 2017 trial information

In early 2017, the Transport Agency ran a two week trial allowing electric vehicle drivers access to five priority bypass lanes in Auckland from 6 to 20 March 2017. Participants were asked to complete a survey, with feedback posted below.

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