This page provides information about underlying policy of the Road User Charges Act 2012, reviews and subsequent evaluations.

Policy – the underlying policy intent of the legislation

The Road User Charges Act 2012(external link) passed on 14 February 2012 and came into force on 1 August 2012. 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(external link).

The Road User Charges Act 2012 simplified and modernised the road user charges (RUC) system. The changes were the most significant changes 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 Road User Charges Act 2012 replaced the Road User Charges Act 1977.

The overall purpose of the changes were to

  • continue the road user charges system by imposing charges on 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
  • an improved regulatory framework for electronic management systems
  • fairer offences and penalties especially for light diesel vehicles

These changes reduced compliance costs and simplified administration processes. It also allowed the NZ Transport Agency to take greater advantage of electronic technology for administration and collection of road user charges. The changes also removed a number of evasion opportunities and encourages timely payment: make the system fairer.

The following documents are the Cabinet papers on the changes:

Further information relating to the 2012 changes:

The review that resulted in the Road User Charges Act 2012 

2009 review of the road user charges system

The Road User Charges Review Group was established in August 2008 to conduct an independent review of the road user charges system. The review:

  • examined the way in which 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.

The review of the road user charges system considered the introduction of a diesel tax carefully, but determined that light road user charges continue to be the most appropriate charging system for light diesel vehicles.

The review also identified the opportunity to further harness technology, for example an electronic collection system, and make other administrative changes to reduce compliance costs and evasion.

Documents relating to the review:

Read the consultant's reports commissioned by the Review Group below:

The outcome of the 2009 review was the Road User Charges Act 2012, outlined above.

Subsequent evaluations of the changes made by the Road User Charges Act 2012

2013 evaluation of the Road User Charges Act 2012

An initial evaluation from 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 initial 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.

Allen & Clarke’s first evaluation report found changes to the road user charges system have been relatively successful in creating greater equity, and that based on both industry and government perceptions, the new road user charges system had more integrity than the previous one.

2014 evaluation of the Road User Charges Act 2012

The second stage evaluation also 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 new RUC system.