Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has called on the State Government to consider using part of the proceeds from the sale of its 49 per cent stake in the WestConnex motorway for incentives to assist truck operators struggling to pay increasing tolls and administration costs.
Though proceeds from the potential sale are set to be invested in other new transport infrastructure, RFNSW Chief Executive Simon O’Hara, said the government must do more to financially support truckies who are increasingly being forced onto new toll roads, like Sydney’s NorthConnex.
“Currently, heavy vehicle tolls simply aren’t reflective of a fair and equitable ‘user-pays’ system. Unlike light vehicles, trucks increasingly have no other option but to use these expensive toll-roads, due to government regulation,” O’Hara said.
He added that though RFNSW supports the aim of diverting heavy vehicles off congested suburban, secondary roads, the government needs to incentivise truckies to use toll roads and motorways.
“We’re calling on the government to utilise part of the proceeds of the future WestConnex sale to fund new measures aimed at financially supporting the transport industry, such as reducing rego fees or providing a specific cash back to freight operators. It just isn’t right that caravan and camper trailer owners have been afforded reduced rego costs, a rebate on tolls and a whole new vehicle classification structure set-up for them and not truckies.
“Light vehicle drivers also have special government cash back on certain toll roads. So why then are truckies, who are forced to use some of these toll roads, with costs increasing each year, not given some equity in the system from government?
“RFNSW is calling for, at the very least, a cap on heavy vehicle tolls to offer some level of support to hard-working truckies, who have struggled to cope with increases in tolls and landside port surcharges, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For example, bona fide RFNSW operators have paid significant toll increases, in some cases more than double. One, who was paying $50 000 in May 2020, doubled to $97 000 in October. Another RFNSW operator paid $74 000 in February and in October is on the cusp of $90 000 per month. A small operator who paid $11 000 in March now owes $22 000 in October.
“Saying to NSW Road Freight that you did an exceptional job during COVID for the community doesn’t pay the bills. Now it seems, perversely, truckies seem to be the cash cow for toll-road operators, port operations and government, with no relief in sight.”