Monday, 15 May 2023 15:04

Western Sydney welcomes long-overdue motorway toll inquiry Featured

Western Sydney motorway Western Sydney motorway WSROC

The peak body representing councils in Greater Western Sydney, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement of an independent review of motorway tolling in NSW.

The tolling review will be led by Professor Allan Fels (former chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) and Dr David Cousins, who will look at streamlining motorway pricing across Sydney.  

The review’s Terms of Reference were announced by the NSW Government on Thursday, 11 May 2023.

“WSROC has been advocating for a review of road tolls over many years, urging the government to make toll roads simpler and fairer,” said WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert.

“The people of Western Sydney are more greatly impacted by tolling issues than other parts of Sydney, due to their greater dependence on private vehicles resulting from Western Sydney’s lack of equivalent public transport coverage and capacity.

“Also, on average, Western Sydney residents travel further to access jobs, services, and recreation.

“As a result, tolls represent the second largest cost for most households in Western Sydney.

“In effect, road tolls and the fuel excise constitute a regressive tax, which greatly and disproportionately burden working families in Western Sydney, already contending with soaring energy costs, rents, and food price inflation.

WSROC is calling for:

  • A fairer tolling system: including ‘Journey Caps’ (for commuters) and ‘Daily Caps’ (for small business operators such as couriers). Fairness, equity and consistency must be a prime consideration in setting appropriate toll charges across the entire tolled motorway network.
  • Clarity and transparency: Toll roads are a major burden on individual households, and many people have no choice but to use them. Residents deserve transparency regarding road pricing.
  • Smart tolls: Modern technology allows for different charges for different people depending on where they start and finish their journey, the time of day, whether drivers are on a low income, etc.
  • More road revenue invested in Western Sydney’s public transport network: So that commuters have a viable choice of travel mode.

“As has been consistently identified by previous NSW Government tolling inquiries, the methods for setting road tolls lack transparency and are highly project-based, resulting in variable outcomes that do not reflect user benefits, nor transport charges across the rest of the network,” said Councillor Calvert.Motorway in Western Sydney

“Any review of the tolls on Sydney’s roads network must consider that Western Sydney residents are presently effectively subsidising transport infrastructure upgrades for more affluent parts of the city, both in terms of the taxes they pay and for the lack of transport services our resident can access.

“In the longer term the question that continues to be avoided by politicians of all colours is ‘how do we charge for the use of roads when the fuel excise is no longer sufficient to maintain our roads let alone expand our road network as our population grows?’.”

“This is already happening as the users of hybrid and especially all-electric vehicles are not contributing to the maintenance of our roads through the fuel excise.

“WSROC therefore also strongly recommends that the NSW and Commonwealth governments investigate the viability of Road Usage Charging – and whether a harmonised approach to Road Usage Charging across all states and territories through a national framework would ensure fewer difficulties in implementing a scheme that works across all of Australia in due course and whether it would ensure fairness for owners of all types of motor vehicles.

“WSROC recommends that a bi-partisan political approach be adopted to ensure the best outcomes for communities, whether public transport users or motorists, and that will have the best chance of success for adoption in due course.

“We would also urge that any proposed ‘best practice’ road usage charging model be trialled or piloted with community participation before it is finally adopted.”

Last modified on Monday, 15 May 2023 15:25

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