The Andrews Labor Government and Liberal Party members joined forces in parliament yesterday to once again block attempts by Transport Matters Party leader Rod Barton to make tolling fairer for families and public transport users.
The amendments to the North East Link Bill 2020 sought to allow active families who choose utes and cab chasis as their vehicles to use the new toll road at passenger vehicle rates, a move Mr Barton hoped could eventually be rolled out to all toll roads in Victoria.
Listen to Rod’s amendments to the North East Link tolling legislation to make tolls fairer for families who choose utes or cab chassis vehicles.
“This isn’t an impossible task, it’s just awkward,” Mr Barton said.
The North East Link Bill passed yesterday established the State Tolling Corporation, which will manage tolls on the new road when it opens to the public in 2027.
“This isn’t my first shot – I tried and failed by a whisker to establish fairer tolls on the West Gate Tunnel tolling bill last year. There will be more opportunities for this and I’ll keep at it,” said Mr Barton.
“Right now the “Bank of Transurban” holds a mortgage over Melbourne’s travelling population, which stings even more when it chose to implement the April quarter fee increases despite the devastation the coronavirus pandemic has had on families and small business in Melbourne.”
Mr Barton’s amendments also sought to allow public transport – buses, taxis, VH-plated hire cars and VH-plated rideshare to travel free of charge.
“Our public transport services should not be taxed. If you are already paying to travel on a bus or taxi on this road a toll fee should not be part of that cost.
“There’s a reason public transport bus routes don’t offer express services to the city – they’d be tolled if they did!” he said.
Mr Barton said the end game here is to reduce congestion and get cars off residential streets and to get people into more efficient, more environmentally friendly public transport services.
Many families across Melbourne feel the pain of tolls because they had chosen a ute or cab chassis vehicle for their family adventures.
“All our cars are heavier and bigger now. Utes are the vehicle of choice for many active families. They shouldn’t be punished for their weekend adventures in regional Victoria with commercial vehicle toll rates.”
“With devastating bushfires and coronavirus lockdowns our regional centres need these families and their family vans and utes, and will for many years to come.”
Mr Barton’s expressed a wish to also extend passenger vehicle rates to our tradies and other local businesses who use ute’s for work purposes.
“This puts money in the pockets of small businesses in our communities who will use this toll road to travel to and from work and to make local deliveries. When local businesses must charge for delivery to cover tolls they compete with online stores whose economies of scale allow them to offer free delivery,” he said.
Giving small businesses a break on tolls is a simply way to support them as they recover from 2020, makes them competitive and creates a road that locals will be happy to use.
“I just hope the “Bank of Transurban” has been watching, taking note, and moves to implement these amendments across all of Melbourne tollways.”
Mr Barton said he would pursue the unfairness of tolling with the Minister for Roads and look for future opportunities to implement these changes.