Millions in tolling deposits to be paid back to Sydney motorists

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More than $60 million in tolling credits will be refunded to Sydney motorists as the NSW government moves to phase out its E-Toll deposit system.

More than 1.2 million drivers will get back the $40 deposit over coming weeks, Transport for NSW says, though any overdue or unpaid bills could be subtracted.

“E-tag customers who have paid a $40 tag deposit will have this credited back to their tolling account, starting this month,” a Transport for NSW spokeswoman said, adding that new customers would not have to pay the deposit.

Opposition roads spokesman John Graham said the government should not frame the refund as toll relief, given motorists were only getting back the credit for what they had already spent.

“Getting your deposit back is like paying for your own toll relief. It is welcome, but ultimately drivers only have themselves to thank,” Mr Graham said.

“Serious toll relief will only happen when the government admits it got these toll contracts wrong. Drivers are paying the price.”

Close to 1 million trips are taken on Sydney’s toll roads every day and the top 15 per cent of motorists spend more than $40 a week, or $2000 a year. However, close to 60 per cent of drivers spend less than $10 per week on tolls.

The NSW government last month sold its remaining share in the WestConnex motorway to a consortium led by tolling giant Transurban for $11.1 billion. It sold a 51 per cent stake in the 33-kilometre motorway to the same consortium for $9.26 billion in 2018.

About $5 billion from the sale of the motorway will be diverted in spending to suburbs that faced the harshest lockdown measures of the Delta outbreak in Sydney’s west.

Transurban will control WestConnex until 2060. Between now and 2040, Transurban can increase tolls on the road every year by inflation (consumer price index) or 4 per cent, whichever is the greater, and then by inflation for the 20 years after that.

Drivers who spend an average of $27 a week per year are entitled to free registration as part of the NSW government’s Toll Relief scheme, while those who spend an average of $16 a week over a year can receive half-price registration.

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