The impact of Sydney’s road tolls on spiralling cost of living pressures will be examined as part of a New South Wales government review into the city’s patchwork network, dubbed “tollmania” by the opposition.
A NSW Treasury document said that inconsistencies within the vast system had led to motorist confusion and the road network not functioning optimally.
The government document also stated that tolling arrangements had been put in place inconsistently as new roads had been built, which would be a key focus for the review due to report back in September.
“The evolution of tolling arrangements in NSW has largely been on a case-by-case basis as new toll roads have been commissioned,” said the document, released in response to a question on notice.
“The current arrangements do not reflect a system-wide approach and incorporate many different charging mechanisms.”
The review will be led by officials from Treasury and Transport for NSW, and will provide advice on how the government can improve the systems taking into consideration state coffers, emissions reduction targets and affordability.
The metropolitan roads minister, Natalie Ward, said the government was committed to finding “innovative” ways to keep down costs and would not rule out any measure before experts made their recommendations.
“We are a government that is mindful of cost of living pressures on our community … that’s why we have implemented the toll review,” she said on Tuesday.
“We’re always mindful of ways in which we can be innovative and look at every opportunity to do so.
“All options are available so that they can tell us what they think might be the best way for us to improve the equity and efficiency.”
Ward would not be drawn on what the government was planning to do about the Sydney Harbour Tunnel tolls when the existing arrangements expire in four months.
The opposition’s roads spokesperson, John Graham, said the review, while welcome, was an “admission of failure” and called for the process to be as open as possible.
“There’s a frank admission of failure here in these documents about the inconsistencies and the failure of the current toll regime,” he said.
“We look forward to seeing this review rollout, we’re calling on the government to deliver toll relief before they put up new tolls, before they consider new tolling arrangements across Sydney and they should make this review as public as possible.”
The opposition leader, Chris Minns – who has increased attacks on the government over cost of living pressures in recent months – echoed Graham’s sentiment.
“There’s been finally an acknowledgment from the NSW government that tollmania has gripped Sydney,” he said.