Monday, 10 July 2017

Blacktown City Council Media Release - Ask Not For Whom The Road Tolls: It Tolls For Thee


10 July, 2017

The Mayor of Blacktown City, Councillor Stephen Bali says the NSW Government is lining the pockets of toll companies rather than improving public transport for those who desperately need it.
·The area of Sydney that can least afford it is paying the penalty for a bad public transport system.
·Instead of improving public transport, the NSW government is lining the pockets of toll companies.
·The M4 will cost commuters an extra $2,016 a year
·Use tolling technology to provide capped tolls, performance based tolls and discounted tolls for people with no public transport alternative.

“The part of Sydney that is most poorly served by public transport is being penalised for having to drive to work,” he said.

“Blacktown City Council represents some of the most marginalised and challenged residents of Sydney.  Our major concern is the proposed tolling system is simply unfair and targets those finding it hardest to raise families.

“When tolls start on the M4, western Sydney workers are going to have to find an extra $2,016 a year to go to and from work on the M4 each day.  It’ll cost up to $4.21 each way, which is approximately $42 a week and $2,016 a year to go to and from work on the M4 each day.

“The lowest earning areas of Sydney, which also have the worst public transport network, are now facing the highest toll impost.

“This is blatantly unfair, unreasonable and unconscionable.  Instead of improving public transport, the NSW government is lining the pockets of toll companies.

“Tolls are currently imposed on the M2, M5, M7, Cross City Tunnel, Eastern Distributor, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Tunnel and the Lane Cove Tunnel. The M4 will be a toll road from mid-2017, as will NorthConnex when it opens in 2019.

“Our train network is essentially the same one that was laid out in the late 1800s when there were less than 6,000 people living in the Blacktown City area.  Now there are 350,000. 
“Has the level of public transport increased 58-fold in proportion with the population increase since then? No.  Successive state governments have been living off the foresight and commitment to community service of those early planners and have failed to keep up with the population.”

What should we have?
·Tolls set in proportion to surrounding public transport availability. Cheaper tolls for trips from areas with limited public transport options and higher tolls for routes with good public transport alternatives.
·Performance refunds.  Hold the motorway accountable for service delivery so we get toll refunds or discounts when the average speed drops below a guaranteed average.
·Hardship suburb tolls.  Set lower tolls for those travelling from socially disadvantaged suburbs. A cash-back system to compensate low income residents.
·Capped tolls.  It is not unreasonable to have a weekly of not more than $40 per week.  Or we have the Melbourne system, where there is a cap on taking a one long journey. 
·Controlled tolls. The last 12-month toll rise was 4% - dwarfing the CPI figure of 1.5% or the 1.9% average annual national wage increase.  Toll increases that exceed the CPI or average wages growth will add financial hardship to families across Sydney.

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