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Toll Group admits being careful with toll road use

TWU NSW tolling inquiry evidence indicates firm mostly sees cost-benefit deficit


Toll Group has clarified its position on New South Wales toll roads following Transport Workers Union NSW (TWU NSW) evidence to the state Legislative Council’s Inquiry Into Road Tolling Regimes.

The union presented an image it said came from a toolbox briefing document from its Woolworths site in Minchinbury, dated May 2021 and headed as such.

Under the sub-heading TOLL/E-TAG ROADS USE UPDATE, the document states: “We thank you for your cooperation in reduction toll road use. This is a reminder to ensure you are not using Toll [sic] roads unless you have authorisation to do so. In most cases, the cost of the toll roads outweighs any benefit we receive from using them.”

The inquiry heard evidence from a range of state and national freight transport and logistics associations, the union and Bus NSW.

Trucking associations have been particularly scathing about the handling of them in Sydney.

But Toll’s involvement appears to have come unbidden.

“Toll does not have a policy to avoid the use of road tolls,” a spokesperson told ATN.

“We regularly undertake route optimisation reviews where we use data from previous trips to determine the quickest and most cost-efficient route for our drivers.

“Toll uses a mix of public and private toll roads to maximise time and cost efficiencies.”

Toll’s name does not appear amongst inquiry-submission names, though many names are anonymous. ATN has sought clarity on whether the company has any involvement in the inquiry.

Read what NatRoad was saying to the tolling inquiry, here

TWU NSW state secretary Richard Olsen said that the move from such a major company “was all the proof needed that Sydney’s toll roads have reached crisis point”.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re an owner-driver trying to run a small business, or a massive multinational company like Toll Group, Sydney’s toll roads are simply too expensive,” Olsen continued.

“Quarter after quarter of compounding increases in tolls are just making the burden on the transport industry more and more severe – and now drivers are increasingly being left with no choice but to boycott toll roads, which means more trucks on suburban streets.

“And of course, there’s the outrageous example of NorthConnex – where truck drivers have to pay a $25 toll each-way, or get a $194 fine if they don’t.

“It’s clear that coercion is the only way the NSW government and Transurban can get people to use their overpriced toll roads.”

“Something needs to change, and it needs to change now. The transport industry can’t go on like this.”

Unfairness highlighted

Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) pleaded at the inquiry for “fairer tolling of truckies who will play a central role in the road to recovery for the NSW economy”.

 “It’s time now for the NSW government to look at rego or toll relief for hardworking truckies who help save our community through Covid with food, medicine, vaccinations, PPE and ensuring our water is drinkable,” RFNSW chief executive Simon O’Hara told the inquiry.

“We have seen light vehicle users and ‘grey nomads’ receive tolling relief in one form or another, from the NSW government around rego and other things.

“Why not for hardworking truckies?”

RFNSW welcomed the review of pricing on the state’s toll-roads, including the potential for the introduction of distance-based tolling, hoping “more would be done to provide financial relief to trucking operators with ever-increasing tolls and administration costs putting a stranglehold on road freight businesses, workers and their families”.

For toll roads, that relief included a ‘per km’ distance-based tolling system, daily cap on tolls for transport operators and off-peak tolling discounts, “which could also deliver less congestion and improved road safety for the community”.

“Different incentives would offer a range of savings and those savings in logistics and freight are much more than dollars and cents,” O’Hara said

“This is not the first time we have raised these issued and we are open to dialogue on how we can make it work to happen.

“We want to focus on a remedy for our freight operators that is fair and equitable for the industry to ensure that together we can deliver constructive solutions for an essential sector that supplies so much of what we need day-to-day.”


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