The Legislative Council’s Transport Committee today handed down a report on the state’s road toll system.
The review found motorists are undertaking more than one million toll trips a day which is adding up to more than $2 billion a year in toll revenue for the government.
It also found the government has “failed” to provide details to the inquiry about the total toll burden under existing contacts, including new toll roads and the granting of concessions on already built roads.
The inquiry estimated this burden to be more than $100 billion.
It also found the decision by NSW Treasury not to publicly release the contract details about the WestConnex until 2060 an “abuse of executive power”.
Chair of the Committee Abigail Boyd said road users have the right to know whether the government’s tolling contracts are “in the public interest and deliver a fair price.”
“The evidence tended to this inquiry made it impossible to ignore the significant impact that tolls are having on residents and businesses,” she said.
“They are clearly paying a high price for the government’s continuing privatization of our roads, and not just in monetary terms.
“Paying exorbitant tolls just to complete a day’s work, access medical care or attend study, is an unreasonable impost on household budgets that are already stretched by mounting cost of living pressures.”
NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said toll prices are “all over the place” and a standardized approach should be taken.
“We want people getting home quicker, that’s why we’re building toll roads but if the roll roads aren’t set at a fair and equitable price, people won’t use them and nobody wins,” he said.
Boyd said the impact of high tolls is particularly evident for west and south west Sydney residents due to the lack of public transport options as an alternative to driving.
The review made a range of recommendations including that the government adopt toll caps and flag falls rather than distance-based tolling across the network.
It also recommended toll relief and cashback schemes are reviewed to make sure the money is going back to the people who need it “based on their ability to pay as well as the existence of public transport alternatives”.
Other recommendations included a review of the rate by which tolls go up and a reduction in administration fees.
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