Toll roads have slugged drivers more than $4b since 2000

Herald Sun: Toll roads have slugged drivers more than $4b since 2000. Aleks Devic. 24 June 2014

Drivers have been slugged more than $4 billion to use Melbourne’s toll roads since the first opened in 2000.

The figure is revealed as the State Government prepares to spend $1 million to investigate how to toll its controversial East West Link.

Options being considered include “variable tolls”, where those in rush hour pay more than those driving off- peak.

EastLink has tolled motorists since 2008, collecting $1 billion, and CityLink has emptied $3 billion from drivers’ wallets over 14 years.

It is not yet known how much motorists will pay to use the $8 billion tunnel connecting the Eastern Freeway with the Western Ring Road.

The executive director of the Linking Melbourne Authority’s technical advisory group, Shaun Smedley, said the $1 million would go on getting the latest technology to work with current systems.

“The services include a technical adviser … on roadside technology, as well as functions such as computer hardware, account management and billing,” he said.

But Opposition roads spokesman Luke Donnellan accused the Government of wasting taxpayers’ money.

“(Premier) Denis Napthine slugging Victorian taxpayers a million dollars to work out the best way to toll them on his dud $8 billion East West tunnel is insulting,” he said.

About 318,657 trips are made on CityLink on an average weekday; on EastLink there are more than 230,000.

Tolls on CityLink have jumped from $4.92 in 2000 to $8.06 today; on EastLink they have risen from $4.96 when tolling started to $5.84 today.

CityLink spokeswoman Ayllie White said: “Before CityLink some of Melbourne’s key arterial roads including City Rd, Alexandra Ave, Mount Alexander Rd and Sydney Rd, were choked with traffic, with three major freeways — The Monash, West Gate and Tullamarine — funnelled into the fringes of the city,” she said.

“This impacted greatly on the quality of life in Melbourne’s inner suburbs, with trucks, pollution and noise on local streets,” Ms White said.

ConnectEast Group’s Peter De Luca said tolls paid for EastLink’s operation and maintenance until 2043.

“EastLink has attracted many motorists away from congested alternatives such as Springvale and Stud Rds and helped improve traffic flow on nearby local roads,” he said.

Originally published as The $4 billion toll on our wallets

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