Three roads to get double the tolls

An interim report into the use of toll roads in NSW has been released. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Tertius Pickard

An interim report on the state’s toll system has proposed a new scheme that would have commuters pay twice to use three of the city’s busiest roads.

At current rates, tolls are forecast to cost NSW residents $123bn up until 2060.

The report’s authors, led by Professor Allan Fels AO and Dr David Cousins AM, are proposing a host of major reforms to tackle the “poorly functioning” road system that they say is inconsistent and inequitable.

A two-way toll has been proposed on three major commuter roads. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

It involves a proposal to reset the pricing of toll roads to create a more unified pricing structure, with tolls charged on a decreasing cost per kilometre driven.

The biggest losers will be commuters who use the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Harbour Tunnel and the Eastern Distributor.

Under the reforms, motorists will be charged a two-way toll for travelling on these roads, with the additional revenue used to lower the majority of tolls across the system.

Eastern Distributor (northbound) 

Cars: $9.38

Larger vehicles: $18.76

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Tunnel


6.30am - 9.30am: $4.27

9.30am - 4pm: $3.20

4pm - 7pm: $4.27


8am - 8pm: $3.20

8pm - 8am: $2.67


Source: NSW government, Prices are as of March 2024

The NSW government plans to introduce legislation to “take back control” of the tolls by establishing a state TollCo, while taking into account the contractual rights of toll operators.

Toll operator Transurban currently owns, at least part of, 11 of the state’s 13 tolled roads – a reality which the report authors suggest has created a toll “monopoly” and resulted in soaring prices.

Legislation is proposed to establish a Toll Co that would take back control of the toll network. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

Professor Fels said analysis of toll pricing has uncovered a tendency for operators to set “modest-looking” tolls while public attention is high, with the costs blowing out over the length of contracts.

Charges levied on motorcyclists and towed recreational vehicles will also be lowered with an aim to reduce congestion on non-tolled roads.

Professor Fels said he understands the government has not yet made a decision on tolling the Western Harbour Tunnel, which is currently under development, however he thinks it would be “logical”.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - NCA NewsWire Photos - 07 FEBRUARY, 2024: Professor Allan Fels AO, addresses the National Press Club of  Australia in Canberra. Picture: NewsWire
Professor Allan Fels AO co-authored the report. Picture: NCA NewsWire

“It would seem logical there should be the same or a similar pricing on the Western Harbour Tunnel. That would be logical, we are trying to look at a consistent system across the board,” he said.

He admitted that the proposed pricing system is still “imperfect” and requires more modelling to be received before the final report is published.

The report is expected to be prepared within the next six months, though the reforms likely won’t come into effect for at least two years.

The review into toll roads kicked off in early-2023 and followed election promises by NSW Premier Chris Minns to reform the previous government’s toll system.

A weekly $60 toll cap was introduced by the NSW government on January 1, with toll fees also reduced on the M5 and M8 travel corridors.