Western Sydney commuters are being kept in the dark about the start date for expensive new tolls on the M4 Motorway with the Baird Government refusing to give motorists a specific date.
The Government has refused to set a date for the introduction of the tolls, saying they will be implemented in the first quarter of 2017 but failing to specify whether it would be January 1 or March 31.
The tolls are due to be introduced once the M4 widening project is completed as part of the WestConnex project.
NSW Labor is urging the Government to provide motorists with advanced warning for the start date of the new toll and to provide motorists a six week grace period before being tolled to use the road.
The grace period would follow the toll free precedent set by Labor when the Westlink M7 and Lane Cove Tunnel opened. Both of these toll roads launched with a toll free period to thank local communities for the inconvenience they experienced while construction was underway.
Once the tolls are implemented western Sydney residents will pay at least $167 million per year to use the previously free road.
The toll will see motorists pay up to $4.21 each way to drive on the motorway. This new toll is a 53 per cent increase on the M4 toll Labor abolished in 2010.
The new M4 toll on Western Sydney will be felt in family budgets as early as the first quarter of 2017 as it equates to approximately $42 a week and $2,016 a year for a motorist travelling to and from work each day. Traffic data from 2012 estimates 165,900 trips are taken on the M4 each weekday.
The Baird Government has signed an unpopular toll agreement which sees the toll on the M4 increase by four per cent every year – four times the current rate of inflation.
NSW Labor is also calling for the tolls to increase only at the rate of inflation to stop excessive charges by the time the contract is completed in 2060.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Roads Jodi McKay
“NSW Labor is calling on the Government, as an act of goodwill, to implement a toll free grace period.
“Mike Baird asked the community to be patient while construction was underway, now the fair thing to do is reward people for their cooperation – not punish them with an overpriced toll.
“Labor got rid of this toll on Western Sydney and Mike Baird is bringing it back and at a much higher cost. At every turn, he slugs motorists.
“Western Sydney families shouldn’t have to find an extra $2000 in their budget just to get to and from work.”
“The Government has an agenda to impose new and higher tolls on NSW roads and it’s simply unfair.
“The M4 toll is due to increase at four per cent each year for more than forty years. That’s outrageous.
“Mike Baird is making it impossibly expensive for people in Western Sydney to live here and work in the city.”