The cost of getting around in Sydney


The average household in Sydney pays more to get around by car and public transport than any others in Australia. They spend a whopping $22,238 per year and $848 more than last year commuting, which swallows 17.2% of their average income.

Compared to this, the average Australian household pays closer to $17,000 a year to get around. No wonder some Sydneysiders feel cash strapped.

The Index

These alarming figures come from the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) Transport Affordability index. The index is based on a hypothetical average couple with children, identified by the 2016 Census.

One member of the family uses public transport for commuting and the other drives to work, but uses toll roads only two days a week to help save money. Even so, the weekly cost of tolls outweighs the relatively low cost of fuel in Sydney:

  • Sydneysiders pay the most in Australia for tolls, registration and licensing, roadside assistance and public transport
  • They pay the second highest price after Melbourne for motor insurance
  • Only fuel and car loans are relatively cheaper in Sydney.

Registration and CTP

Sydney remains the city with the highest vehicle registration, CTP insurance (green slip) and driver licensing costs, followed by Canberra and Perth.

 March Quarter 2017  Ranking
 Sydney  $43.03  1
 Canberra  $38.41  2
 Perth  $33.23  3
 Melbourne  $31.28  4
 Adelaide  $29.85  5
 Brisbane  $29.00  6
 Darwin  $27.73  7
 Hobart  $22.49  8
 Average  $31.88

While registration costs rose slightly during the year, the cost of CTP for older vehicles slightly dropped. Following a lengthy investigation into the CTP scheme, the NSW Parliament recently passed a bill to reform the scheme. This is expected to reduce the cost of CTP for vehicle owners in Sydney and regional NSW during 2017-18.

The government is currently investigating whether registration fees and fuel excise should be scrapped and replaced with a user-pays system that charges drivers.

Expensive toll roads

While Sydney has the highest transport costs in Australia ($22,238), Brisbane is second but well behind and ($19,409) and Melbourne is a close third ($18,889). These cities have one thing in common: expensive toll roads.

The difference between commuting in Sydney and Hobart is striking – well over $1,000 for the household (even with two cars and two drivers). Before you consider moving to Hobart, it is still the most expensive city to purchase fuel.

Find your cheapest green slip here.

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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