Sydney’s toll roads: most expensive and extensive in world


By Leith van Onselen


While residents of Sydney and Melbourne are suffering from crush-loaded roads, trains, schools, and hospitals, as well as hideously expensive housing, toll road companies like Transurban are making out like bandits.

In fact, according to ABC News, Sydney’s toll road network is the most expensive and extensive in the world:

…transport experts have given the city the dubious honour of having the most extensive — and expensive — urban toll road network in the world.

Sydney has nine toll roads that include a total of 15 toll points, and will soon have even more when motorways under construction are completed.

Currently, motorists are charged when driving on the:

  • M2
  • new M4 WestConnex
  • M5
  • M7
  • M4
  • Eastern Distributor
  • Cross-City Tunnel
  • Lane Cove Tunnel
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Sydney Harbour Tunnel

There will be at least six additional tolls between now and 2023 upon completion of the:

  • M4 tunnels
  • M5 (from Beverly Hills to St Peters)
  • M5 East (Beverly Hills to General Holmes Drive)
  • M4-M5 link
  • NorthConnex

“In terms of the kilometres of tolls in the urban area, Sydney has the most in the world,” said Chinh Ho, senior lecturer with the Institute of Transport Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney.

“We have an expensive network of toll roads…

Fees range for cars from $1.67 on the Military Road e-ramp to $7.45 on the Hills M2 Motorway at North Ryde.

The WestConnex has a wide range of fees from $4.93 on the new widened M4 to $7.89 on the new M4 between Parramatta (Church Street) and Haberfield (Parramatta Road and City West Link).

Total toll charges on the WestConnex will be capped at $9.30…

Earlier this month, The Australian’s John Durie hailed Transurban’s CEO, Scott Charlton, for extracting “monopoly rent” from users:

When Scott Charlton started at Transurban six years ago the company had seven roads. It now has 17, with another nine projects under development…

In toll road terms this, combined with low interest rates for the foreseeable future, is about as close to heaven as you can get, and Transurban has average concessions on its roads totalling 30 years – up from 25 when Charlton started.

By contrast, Transurban’s international peer ACS has average concessions on its roads of 20 years, while French giant Vinci has 17 years…

Another way of describing toll road concessions is monopoly rent, because it’s the length of time an operator gets to collect on earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation margins of 80 per cent plus.

And while motorists are being gouged, Scott Charlton is enjoying massive remuneration of $7 million.

This is Australia’s population ponzi economy in action. It’s a model of growth where corporate Australia privatises the gains from mass immigration and socialises the costs on everyone else.

And it’s only going to get worse as our two biggest states double in size to around 10 million people by 2066, as projected by the ABS:

These are the hidden costs of a ‘Big Australia’: in effect giant private taxes, which fatten the ‘growth lobby’s’ wallets at everyone else’s expense.