Cashless tolls

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Transport
Tags: ,

Sydney’s M2 and Eastern Distributor freeways have just recently gone cash-free on January 31. This leaves the M5 as the only tollway in Sydney that still accepts cash payments, rather than requiring electronic payment via an e-tag. Ironically, the M5 is also the only tollway in Sydney where the government offers a cash back offer, in which it refunds 91% of the toll.

Removing the cash payment option allows a more streamlined movement of cars through toll plazas and also allows for an increase in the speed limit in these areas (which are often 20km/hour lower, even for cars that are using their e-tag).

These M2 and Eastern Distributor, completed in 1997 and 2000 respectively, were the last tollways built in Sydney that accepted cash. All tollways built since then have been completely cashless. The most recent of these, the M7, goes as far as calculating the distance travelled and charging the toll based on the number of kms used. Ideally a fully integrated freeway system in Sydney would be entirely based on distance travelled (with perhaps a premium for going into/through the CBD). However, the mix of private and public ownership of the different freeways, as well as the government’s reluctance to charge tolls for publicly owned freeways means this is unlikely to happen.

As a sidenote, the government does charge a toll on the Harbour Bridge and Harbour Tunnel, but this is because the Harbour Tunnel is part privately owned, and thus requires both for a toll on it and the same toll to exist for the Harbour Bridge.

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