Thursday, 28 October 2021 15:50

WSROC gives evidence at NSW inquiry into road toll regimes

WSROC’s advocacy in addressing Western Sydney’s disproportionate toll burden was tabled in NSW Parliament this month, as President Clr Barry Calvert and CEO Charles Casuscelli gave evidence at the NSW hearing into road tolling regimes on October 7.

Western Sydney is more greatly impacted by tolling issues than other parts of Sydney, as it lacks equivalent public transport coverage and capacity (resulting in greater dependence on private vehicles), and because, on average, Western Sydney residents travel further to access jobs, services and recreation.

Tolls represent the second largest cost for most households, and a significantly greater proportion in Western Sydney. The community wants to be sure they are getting value for money.

WSROC President, Clr Barry Calvert, said, “WSROC’s ongoing advocacy and addressing tolling inequity extends over many years. Giving evidence at this second hearing of the tolling inquiry affirms the state government accepts this disparity cannot be allowed to continue.

“As has been consistently identified by 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.

“The WestConnex motorway is the most recent example of opaque toll setting based on individual project costs. The result was significant consumer backlash. This is understandable. “Full time, Western Sydney workers are paying tolls to the tune of $2000 per year, to get to and from work on WestConnex; a fee that will be increased at a minimum of 4 per cent annually for the next 40 years,” said Clr Calvert.

“WSROC has long advocated for proceeds from the sale of WestConnex to be reinvested into Western Sydney’s infrastructure and liveability needs, as the region’s road users have paid a disproportionate amount towards delivery of the project,” said Clr Calvert.

WSROC’s key advocacy points on tolling inequity for the West were echoed by NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns in a recent media statement, in which he included prioritisation of the issue at the next state election.

WSROC is calling for:

1. A fairer tolling system. Some options include:

  • Journey caps (for commuters) and daily caps (for small business transport/freight operators i.e. couriers).
  • A fairer, more consistent system. Why do residents in the north west pay four times more than those in the south west?
  • 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. We have the technology to allow different charges for different people depending on where they start and finish their journey. Time of day. Whether they are on a low income etc.

2. More road revenue invested in Western Sydney’s public transport network, so that commuters have a viable choice of travel mode.