Until now truckies caught avoiding the $24.34 NorthConnex tunnel toll in Sydney in preference for a free run along Pennant Hills Road have been issued with a warning letter.
But Transport for NSW (TfNSW) says the unofficial amnesty period is concluding at the end of March and $194 fines will then be issued to those using the road who do not have exemptions.
A TfNSW said that, as of March 5, some 10,623 warnings have been issued to offending trucks and buses – over 12.5 metres long or over 2.8 metres clearance height – since the 9km tunnel opened last October.
Tunnel partners Transurban and TfNSW said the tunnel was expected to take 5000 trucks a day off the busy Pennant Hills thoroughfare, and dramatically improve efficiencies for transport operators.
NorthConnex allows truckies to drive between Melbourne and Newcastle without encountering traffic lights by using the M7, M2 and NorthConnex – at a cost $61.54.
But smaller operators say they are being unfairly slugged with one telling us the state government also seemed to have disregarded the impacts that compulsory tunnel use will have on fatigue management and driver safety.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to go from Newcastle to Melbourne without any traffic lights, but what the transport minister has forgotten to also tell us is that we can go from Wyong to Pheasant’s Nest, which is near Mittagong, without having direct access to any food or fuel,” said Rob Woolley.
“We expect better and this situation is unacceptable.”
Road Freight NSW chief executive Simon O’Hara told the Sydney Morning Herald that toll roads such as NorthConnex can be a “win” if they take noisy vehicles off local roads and speed up travel for transporting freight, but they should be optional.
“If you want people to use something you’ve got to incentivise them. Instead of bringing out the stick, you bring out the carrot,” he said.