NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced that the government will offer a rebate on car registration to people who spend more than $25 per week on Sydney road tolls.
Simply, the NSW Government plans to reward drivers of privately owned vehicles the more they use the city’s toll ways. And the bigger your car, the bigger the rebate you receive.
The saving to most motorists will be $359 per year and for some $715. At the same time, it's expected to cost the state at least $100 million in the first year and increase over time.
Ms Berejiklian is confident the NSW government can afford the budget impact and wants to "bring back people onto roads they haven't previously used".
As Australia’s most congested city, can Sydney really afford to incentivise and reward driving?
If the government is happy to fork out $100 million in one year alone to drivers, we can think of a number of ways that money could be better spent and have better outcomes for everyone.
$100 million per annum:
- buys 1000km of separated cycle path
- funds Ride2School, Bicycle Network’s successful Behaviour Change Program, for the entire state for 10 years
- fund a program of free, secure bike parking cages at train stations and commuter hubs
Each of these alternatives, or a combination of all of them, offers the opportunity for the NSW State Government to reduce traffic congestion, increase active transport and to improve the health and happiness for people in NSW.
NSW has already tried refunding tolls via the M5 cashback scheme, and at a cost to taxpayers exceeding $1.5 billion — this is now one of Sydney’s busiest toll roads.
Drivers may appreciate a few hundred dollars off their annual registration bill, but changing Sydney journeys to increase active transport which ultimately reduces the number of cars on the road is more likely to increase health and quality of life.