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One company owns Sydney’s toll roads

congestion charging and tolls

One company – Transurban – now controls all Sydney’s toll roads, except for the Harbour Bridge and Tunnel. In fact, Sydney is the toll capital of the world, with 135 kilometres of tolled roads and more on the way. Did you know toll prices are rising twice as quickly as real wages? Meanwhile, some truck drivers are paying out more in tolls than they receive in wages.

Transurban buys rest of WestConnex

Transurban has just bought the remaining 49% share in WestConnex. WestConnex has 70kms of new roads, with tolls based on how far vehicles travel. Tolls rise by at least 4% each year or the rate of inflation (whichever is higher) until 2040. After that, they increase at the rate of inflation.

This company now controls all toll roads except the Harbour Bridge and Tunnel. It controls the M2, M4, M5, M7, Cross City Tunnel, Eastern Distributor, WestConnex, NorthConnex and the Lane Cove Tunnel. Transurban has already set its sights on buying the existing Harbour Tunnel and the new Western Harbour Tunnel.


With no competition in the market, Transurban has a practical monopoly. However, the NSW government claims drivers still have a choice of whether or not to use toll roads.

Truck drivers paying too much

Unfortunately, truck drivers do not always have a choice.

In March 2021 when NorthConnex first opened, truck drivers were told they had to use the new road or incur a $194 fine. During a short grace period, more than 10,000 trucks illegally used Pennant Hills Road. Now they incur the fine.

NatRoads says the cost of tolls for a typical 4-hour delivery run from western Sydney to the Northern Beaches ($140) is now more than the driver’s wage ($134). One delivery truck owner says it costs the company $38,000 a year in tolls. He claims most routes offer limited savings in time or distance yet tolls are still three times higher than for cars. While Transurban charges $16.48 for a truck on the M7, modelling shows only $3.20 is actual road damage.

NSW Legislative Council’s Inquiry into Road Tolling Regimes had to be put off until October-November 2021 because of Covid. The last Inquiry was in 2017.

The cost of trips (Oct 2021 prices)

Tolls go up every quarter by an agreed amount. We have been calculating the rising cost of the same five trips in Sydney. All trips except Liverpool to the City have inched up slowly, except for the M5 East, which used to be free and now costs up to $7.23.

  Liverpool 
to City Glendenning
to City Penrith to 
Airport via M5 Wahroonga to
Airport Cremorne to Katoomba
Toll there $26.66 $21.85 $20.62 $9.97 $21.97
Toll back $12.17 $21.85 $19.52 $16.15 $21.97
Daily toll $38.83 $43.70 $40.14 $26.12 $43.94

Source: Sydney Motorway Toll Calculator. State the entry and exit points or locate them on a map. Some entry points do not operate as exit points and vice versa.

 

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert greenslips.com.au

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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