25 July, 2024
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Toll Review identifies a road to a fairer system for motorists

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The independent Toll Review interim report, handed down today by Professor Allan Fels, lays bare the damage wrought by toll road privatisation of the former government and the huge task of reform required to ease the burden on motorists.

Prof Fels and Dr David Cousins were asked to independently assess the efficiency, fairness, simplicity and transparency of tolls.

The interim report reveals Sydney’s toll road network is a poorly-functioning patchwork of numerous different price structures that will cost motorists $195 billion in nominal terms in tolls over the next three and a half decades – and how it will hit western Sydney hardest if no signifcant reforms are made.

The report shows privatisation has left Sydney with a patchwork of toll concessions that make our toll road network neither simple nor fair.

That the price of tolls in NSW are simply too high which discourages the efficient use of toll roads and that the toll prices are locked in for decades with a system that was designed with financial returns back to toll road operators in mind rather than managing traffic in the most efficient way.

Reforming Sydney’s vast road toll network is a complex task, spanning 13 different toll roads and ten individual contracts, with two more toll roads under construction.

There are a range of recommendations presented to Government by Professor Fels and Dr Cousins for consideration including:

  • A unified, network-wide price structure that is charged on a declining distance-based method to assist people who must travel further – specifically the millions of motorists in western Sydney who currently carry the largest burden and have the fewest public transport alternatives.
  • Creating a state-owned special purpose entity to set toll prices and improve competition.
  • Legislative changes to allow toll prices to be set independently of individual contracts.
  • Engaging the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) in oversight of toll price setting.

Professor Fels and Dr Cousins also call for ways to further encourage efficient freight use of toll roads. Reduced charges for a new class of light heavy vehicle ‘tradie trucks’, motorcycles and towed recreational vehicles will also be considered.

The findings and recommendations of the interim Toll Review will help the NSW Government begin to consider the different options that are necessary to reform the network over time to provide a simpler, fairer system that no longer penalises western Sydney road users for their postcode.

The Government promised at the election to introduce long-term reform for the world’s most tolled city and an end to the Liberals’ “toll mania” in Sydney.

The Toll Review confirms this will be a complex task but one that the state must embark on as the Government provides essential cost-of-living relief through Labor’s $60 toll cap which will begin providing quarterly cash rebates in April.

While government considers these reforms the public is invited to have its input into the final report of the Toll Review, with further public, industry and stakeholder engagement planned. 

Premier of New South Wales Chris Minns said:

“Sydney is the most tolled city in the world. And now we know trying to fix it requires a significant reset of the tolling network.

“The toll burden is hitting families who can least afford it most, particularly parts of western Sydney that have fewer public transport alternatives to getting in the car and paying tolls.

“This isn’t fair. It’s putting a huge burden on Sydneysiders trying get to work, drop their kids at school and go about their lives.

“We were elected with a mandate to undertake work on toll reform, to make tolls simpler and fairer.

“It is important to note that this independent report is not government policy, but it does offer ideas which will inform our roadmap to a clearer, more equitable tolling system.

“It will take some time, but this interim report outlines some bold options for government to consider.

“I want to be clear today in saying we will not be ending the M5 South-West Cashback Scheme.”  

Minister for Roads, John Graham said:

“This interim report recognises just how difficult toll reform will be, it also recognises how necessary it is.

“Allan Fels and David Cousins have placed in front of the NSW Government some serious options on toll reform. We will take our time to consider these options and come back with a detailed government response.

“This government is willing to have the hard conversations and take on the status quo to deliver a fairer, simpler system that puts the motorist back at the centre rather than financial interests of toll road investors.”

Chris Minns

Premier of New South Wales

John Graham

Special Minister of State, Minister for Roads,

Minister for the Arts, Minister for Jobs and Tourism

Minister for Music and Night-time Economy

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