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Toll relief in sight for Sydney drivers

The rising cost of navigating Sydney’s 140km toll road network has reportedly forced the NSW government to consider implementing an Opal card-style charging system.

Currently, motorists are at the mercy of various billing categories across the city’s 12 toll roads, including fixed toll checkpoints that charge a flat rate regardless of time or distance travelled.

Time-of-day billing applies for the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Harbour Tunnel, while four other roads are metered on a distance-based system.

Transurban, which owns all Sydney’s toll roads except the Harbour Bridge and Tunnel, collected $2.27 billion in toll fees from its global network in the 2021 financial year, a flat result on 2020 thanks to rolling lockdowns. Picture: via Nearmap

Transurban, which owns all Sydney’s toll roads except the Harbour Bridge and Tunnel, collected $2.27 billion in toll fees from its global network in the 2021 financial year, a flat result on 2020 thanks to rolling lockdowns. Picture: via Nearmap

An Opal card system – reportedly under consideration – could potentially change this and relieve the burden on drivers, according to Nine News.

“In response to rising toll costs, the state government is discussing an Opal-style toll system whereby a motorist is charged for how much of the city‘s network they use, instead of individual motorways,” the outlet reported on Monday.

“As part of the system, the amount a motorist would pay would be capped at a weekly or daily sum regardless of how far they drive.”

Tolls are a hot-button issue in Sydney, with NSW Labor leader Chris Minns frequently raging over rising costs and the near-monopoly enjoyed by $40 billion company Transurban.

Premier Dominic Perrottet is apparently ‘aware’ of the burden tolls are having on families and is looking to ‘put downward pressure on the system’ if he can. Picture: Jeremy Piper / NCA NewsWire

Premier Dominic Perrottet is apparently ‘aware’ of the burden tolls are having on families and is looking to ‘put downward pressure on the system’ if he can. Picture: Jeremy Piper / NCA NewsWire

Transurban, which owns all Sydney’s toll roads except the Harbour Bridge and Tunnel, collected $2.27 billion in toll fees from its global network in the 2021 financial year, a flat result on 2020 thanks to rolling lockdowns.

The state government’s agreement with Transurban allows the company to lift tolls by 4 per cent a year or by the cost of inflation – whichever is higher – easily outpacing current wages growth.

According to comparison site Greenslip.com.au, a motorist will pay more than $40 if they drive from Penrith to Sydney Airport and back via the M5 motorway, while a return from Katoomba to Cremorne is nearly $44.

Currently, motorists are at the mercy of various billing categories across the city’s 12 toll roads, including fixed toll checkpoints that charge a flat rate regardless of time or distance travelled. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Currently, motorists are at the mercy of various billing categories across the city’s 12 toll roads, including fixed toll checkpoints that charge a flat rate regardless of time or distance travelled. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Nine reported that Premier Dominic Perrottet was “aware” of the burden tolls were having on families and said he was looking to “put downward pressure on the system” if he could.

NCA newswire has contacted the Premier’s office for clarification on the plan.

Opal cards – a similar concept to the Myki card in Melbourne and the Go Card in Brisbane – measure the distance you’ve travelled and calculate a fare based on your fare band and available discounts.

Trips are capped at daily and weekly amounts.

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