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NSW toll review will reform motorway pricing

With temporary toll caps in place in NSW, the government has now launched its review of the state’s troublesome toll system

The NSW government says an independent review of tolling in NSW will look to streamline motorway pricing across Sydney to make toll roads simpler and fairer, with the review’s Terms of Reference tabled in parliament this week.

The review, led by Professor Allan Fels and Dr David Cousins, will examine:

  • The structure and level of tolls in NSW in the future, looking at their efficiency, fairness, simplicity and transparency, existing agreements with providers and the impact on all forms of transport
  • The extent to which tolls should reflect the capital and operating costs of roads, the impact different users have on road sustainability and the use of roads throughout the day
  • The appropriate targeting of relief to provide fairness for the whole community and how to ensure the community, rather than toll road owners, benefit from toll relief
  • Whether tolls are understandable, simple for motorists to pay and administratively efficient to collect
  • The scope for competition and regulation to influence road tolls and the efficiency of service performance by providers.

The NSW government says Fels and Cousins will lead a cross-agency steering committee guiding the review.

A public discussion paper will be released mid-year, followed by public hearings in the second half of 2023. Submissions will be sought from the public and industry stakeholders.

A final report will be released publicly before cabinet considers its recommendations.

Separately, the NSW government is set to introduce a $60 a week toll cap for motorists in NSW from the start of next year. This will be on top of the existing Toll Relief Rebate Scheme, which provides eligible drivers the ability to claim a 40 per cent rebate up to a cap.

“As the terms of reference of the toll review clearly state, toll relief must be aimed squarely at motorists and the community, not the owners of toll roads in NSW,” NSW roads minister John Graham says.

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“I expect the review and subsequent overhaul of the toll network to make toll roads simpler and fairer for motorists who use them most.

“Addressing congestion and cost-of-living pressures, particularly for regular commuters without viable public transport alternatives, is another focus.

“Tolling in NSW is inconsistent, with different pricing rates, methods of calculating charges and vehicle classifications depending on the road, making it confusing for motorists.”

NSW treasurer Daniel Mookhey says the review will focus on negotiating with tolling operators to gain better deals for road users, providing targeted relief for those who use toll roads most, such as transport operators.

“This is a significant policy review which will look at long term reform options to overhaul the tolling system including competition concerns, moving freight on toll roads at night and public transport on toll roads,” Mookhey says.

“While this review looks at viable long-term solutions for the future of our toll roads, we’ll be providing short-term relief for motorists through the $60 a week cap on tolls.”

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