State road tolls review and inquiry backed by RFNSW

By: Rob McKay


Cross-party committee to look at productivity issues and trucks’ burden

State road tolls review and inquiry backed by RFNSW
Simon O’Hara

Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) welcomes a proposed toll road pricing review but wants the New South Wales government must do more to help ease the financial pain for the trucking industry.

Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) welcomes a review of pricing on the state’s toll-roads, but says the NSW Government must do more to provide financial relief to trucking operators struggling to pay ever-increasing tolls and administration costs.

Such a review may included the potential for the introduction of distance-based tolling, though RFNSW chief executive Simon O’Hara believes it is imperative the probe examines incentives for freight operators for their frequent road toll use.

"We believe that a ‘per km’, distance-based tolling system could be a good first step, with the consideration of a daily cap on tolls for transport operators," O’Hara says.

"Off peak tolling discounts would also incentivise truckies to take advantage of reduced prices for usage after hours, help ease congestion and have the added safety benefit of reducing levels of light vehicles in non-peak periods.

"RFNSW has long argued that current tolling fees are unfair and inequitable for truck operators, who increasingly, have no alternative than to use expensive toll roads, due to Government regulations.

"If the government is serious about diverting heavy vehicles off suburban roads, it must incentivise truckies to use toll roads, such as reducing rego fees or providing a specific ‘cash back’ to freight operators.

"Our members need some level of support from the government, as they continue to struggle to cope with not only significant increases in tolls, but to landside port surcharges and other operational costs."

O’Hara notes that RFNSW looks forward to lodging a submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry Into Road Tolling Regimes which will be drawn from the feedback and insights of its members.


Read how RFNSW sought road toll relief for state trucking, here


Being held by cross-party Legislative Council Portfolio Committee No. 6 – Transport and Customer Service, the inquiry will look amongst other things at the toll cost multiple for trucks compared with cars and the impact of tolls on productivity generally

The terms of reference are:

  • An updated review of the tolling regimes in place on different roads and an explanation for the differences between each
  • The total cost paid by drivers in tolls for the WestConnex toll road over the life of its contract, and the extent to which this represents value for money
  • The impact, and the geographical distribution of the impact, of toll costs on NSW drivers and on productivity
  • The extent of toll relief provided in NSW and whether it is adequate
  • Opportunities to increase transparency for the public, particularly over how tolling contracts are negotiated and varied, and the extent to which tolls are paid
  • The rationale for allowing higher than CPI increases on certain tolls, and for the truck toll being set at three times the toll for car traffic
  • The ability or otherwise of trucking businesses to afford increases in tolling charges and the extent or otherwise of their ability to pass this through
  • Opportunities to increase the assurance to the public that tolling arrangements represent the fairest possible outcome, including the appropriateness of involving an independent agency such as Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) in the determination of tolls and their escalation
  • The long term impact on government finances as a result of toll roads being wholly or partly operated by non-government entities
  • Consideration of the impact of direct or debt financing of road projects, including what would have been the impact on regional road projects of the direct financing of WestConnex
  • Any other related matter.

It will consider the different tolling regimes that apply to our key motorways, including the M2, M4, M5, M7, Cross City Tunnel, Eastern Distributor, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Tunnel, Westconnex, North Connex and the Lane Cove Tunnel. The inquiry will look at the impact o

"We understand that toll costs can have a significant impact on drivers," inquiry chair and Greens member Abigail Boyd says.

"This inquiry will look at how toll prices are set for different motorways and road users, which geographical areas are most impacted by these costs and why toll increases can be higher than CPI increases.

"Given the amount of money paid in road tolls, this inquiry will also look at whether tolling arrangements across NSW, particularly those involving private toll-road operators, provide value for money for drivers and are in the long-term financial interests of the state."

NSW Labor, which has made road tolls a campaign issue, welcomes reports that the NSW government is ordering a review to consider the rising pressure facing Sydney’s drivers due to the cost of tolls. 

"The cost of tolls is soaring. – something has to give," ALP shadow minister for roads John Graham says.

"This is the first sign from the Government that they are reconsidering their approach."

Submissions to the inquiry are open until May 23.

Details can be found here.

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