Labor is urging the Government to ease the financial burden on motorists and truck drivers by offering toll relief on the M5 East during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s also urging the Government to introduce toll-free periods on all new toll roads in NSW.
It comes as commuters use alternative routes to avoid the new charge on an old road, clogging roads across southern Sydney. Traffic on Forest Road regularly grinds to a halt, with some making risky manoeuvres and last-minute lane changes.
The Government ignored Labor’s calls for a toll-free period last month but as community outrage intensifies over the Premier’s ‘toll mania’ agenda, it’s clear commuters can’t afford the new charge in the middle of a recession.
Daily commuters are being slugged hefty charges to use the same road they always have:
- Cars: $6.95 each way which equals more than $3,300 a year
- Trucks: $20.86 per trip which adds up to between $10,000 to $14,000 a year
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay and the Shadow Minister for Roads John Graham met Paul Read, the owner of a Kingsgrove plumbing business who’s instructed his staff to avoid the M5 tunnel to minimise costs.
Mr Read’s five workers travel between Kingsgrove, the eastern suburbs and the city every weekday. His previous toll bill was $960 a month. That’s doubled with the opening of the M5 toll. He says the added cost is unsustainable.
Ms McKay said families need financial relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, not another bill.
“We are in a recession. Workers, families and businesses are all struggling. It’s cruel and unfair to force motorists and truck drivers to shoulder the burden of this Government’s budget mismanagement. Especially when they are being encouraged to use their cars instead of public transport.”
Mr Graham said it will also help drivers adapt to new routes and reduce the risk of dangerous, last-minute lane changes by motorists trying to avoid the charges.
“We want the Premier to show leadership and do the right thing by motorists. It is safer, and fairer to give drivers some relief,” Mr Graham said.
The Member for Kogarah Chris Minns said: “Labor built this road. The public paid for it. Now the Government wants the public to pay for it 15 times over and it’s the truckies and tradies who are being hit the hardest. This is a tax on the people of South West Sydney.”
The Member for Canterbury Sophie Cotsis said: “Since the Government introduced these tolls last month I have seen the traffic along roads including Bexley Road, Kingsgrove Road, Moorefields Road and Canterbury Road. The whole point of the M5 East was to reduce road congestion. I haven’t seen traffic this bad on local roads in 20 years.
The Member for Rockdale Stephen Kamper said: “Commuters and truck drivers have driven this road every day for two decades and relied on it to get into the city. Motorways are designed to ease traffic and slash commute times but this Government’s ‘toll-mania’ agenda is doing the exact opposite.”