Most Australians would think Sydney is the most expensive city for getting around. This is mainly because of toll roads. It costs $429 a week for an average Sydney household. But if you consider transport costs as a share of income, Sydney’s 15% is the fourth most expensive city for transport. Brisbane is the least affordable.
Wagga Wagga is the most affordable regional area in Australia, costing $252.57 a week and about 10% of incomes. It actually costs a resident of Wagga Wagga only 59% of what it costs a Sydney resident to get around.
The affordability index
The AAA Transport Affordability index generates these figures each quarter using an imaginary household that has two cars and uses public transport. Costs include car loan payments, registration and insurance, fuel, servicing, roadside assistance, public transport, and tolls.
Over time, the AAA index offers a useful picture of what kinds of travel expenses are increasing and which ones are falling or fluctuating.
Tolls always rise
No doubt tolls are the biggest factor in Sydney.
In Sydney, tolls make up 19% of travel costs, or $81.16 a week. This is the second highest amount after car loan payments of $123.74. For those who own their vehicles, tolls are the biggest slice. The AAA says its Q3 2018 index will include savings of $358 per year because of the toll relief program.
If Sydney had no tolls, travel costs would be $347.94 a week. This is around the Australian average transport spend of $344.47 (Perth is the closest to that).
But tolls as we know keep rising each quarter. They never go down, as other transport variables can.
Another factor is fuel. In Sydney, fuel is 16.2% of total spend on transport. People in Wagga Wagga spend 19% of their transport budget on fuel because it costs more per litre and they don’t have much public transport.
Sydneysiders pay $59 a week for public transport, which is more than Wagga Wagga residents pay for any single item except for car loan payments of $123.74.
Meanwhile, CTP is always cheaper for rural vehicle owners than for metro vehicle owners.