go to top

Time to reform Sydney’s toll network

congestion tax charging and tolls to reform

The NSW government wants to reform the toll network in Sydney and has set up an Independent Toll Review. The latest review builds on the one begun by the previous government but with a different emphasis. It will investigate pricing inconsistencies, how price setting can address congestion, scope for competition and regulation to influence tolls, and the interface with public transport.

Purposes of the review

The review aims to make the toll network efficient, fair, simple and transparent. With tolls rising rapidly, it will closely investigate pricing. For example, prices and the way they are set vary across Sydney so some areas are disproportionately affected. Second, toll rebates may not be effective because they encourage motorists to use roads they may not have used and benefit tollroad operators.

Head of the review, Alan Fels, will consider:

  • Whole network pricing with an access and distance-based charge
  • A geographic motorway system with 5 zones
  • Time of day and dynamic pricing, such as lower tolls to move freight at night
  • How public transport and toll roads intersect
  • Scope for competition and regulation to influence tolls.

One important task will be to negotiate with tolling operators, like Transurban. Transurban owns or has a stake in 11 out of 15 tollroads in Sydney. There are long-term contracts with these operators, which set out guaranteed price rises at regular intervals. The review will need to work productively with Transurban and others to achieve mutually beneficial changes without having to pay heavy compensation.

Make a submission to the review

If you would like to make a submission to the review, you must lodge it by 28 July 2023. If you want to present at a public hearing, you need to provide a broad outline of your submission one week beforehand. Public hearings are in the Sydney CBD, Parramatta and Penrith from 11-13 July 2023.

Other toll reviews

Tolls are a continuing concern for motorists and this is not the first attempt to reform Sydney’s tollroads. NSW Legislative Council  in August 22 released a report with 10 recommendations. A toll review in 2017  issued a report with 8 recommendations. It will be interesting to see whether any of these recommendations find their way into long-term tollroad reform.

The cost of trips (June 2023 prices – up in July)

We have calculated the rising cost of the same 5 trips in Sydney since May 2017. Tolls go up every quarter or once a year by an agreed amount. However, 40% toll rebates and $60 caps* can substantially reduce the amount motorists eventually pay.

to City Glendenning
to City Penrith to 
Airport via M5 Wahroonga to
Airport Katoomba to Cremorne
Toll there $29.10 $23.68 $22.69 $10.57 $24.22
Toll back $13.39 $19.68 $21.48 $17.54 $24.22
Daily toll $42.49 $43.36 $44.17 $28.11 $48.44
Weekly toll $212.45 $216.80 $220.85 $140.55 $242.20

Source: Sydney Motorway Toll Calculator.  

*New weekly toll cap

Motorists can look forward to a cap of weekly tolls to $60 a week from 1 January 2024 for 2 years. This will apply on top of the existing 40% rebate for motorists who spend more than $375 a year on tolls. (Trucks using the M5 East and M8 will also pay lower tolls.) However, the current Registration Relief Scheme ends 30 June 2023.

Remember to buy a green slip before you can renew your registration.

your opinion matters: