Construction relief from the Airport Line and Cross City Tunnel

Posted: September 23, 2013 in Transport
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Roads Minister Duncan Gay has hosed down rumours that the government might eliminate the toll on the Cross City Tunnel following earlier news of it entering voluntary administration for the second time in a decade. Mr Gay told the Sydney Morning Herald (link unavailable) that buying back the road and then not charging a toll was “just an urban myth; that’s not happening”. However, he did not rule out the possibility of buying it back and reducing the toll or paying the new owner a concession to cut the toll.

The motivation for this comes from the 5 to 6 years of construction through the CBD for light rail on George Street and the desire to divert as much traffic away from the city centre in order to minimise disruptions. Such a buyback could also fit in neatly with the introduction of a congestion charge, which could provide offsetting revenue to eliminate the Cross City Tunnel’s toll, thus incentivising surface traffic to re-route underground. However, this is not the current government’s policy, and something it has rejected despite the concept of a congestion charge being raised by both Transport for NSW and Infrastructure NSW.

Video: Gatepass could be removed at Airport stations, Seven News

Meanwhile, the NSW opposition has succeeded in establishing a Legislative Council inquiry into the removal of the airport station access fee. The $2.60 access fee was lifted for Mascot and Green Square stations in 2010, resulting in an estimated 50% increase in patronage. Removing or reducing the much higher $12.30 fee at the airport stations would be expected to also raise patronage. The possibility of this occurring has grown due to the rising proportion of access fee revenue going to the government, which is set to receive close $50m from it next year alone.

A stations access fee of $12.30 is currently payable for anyone travelling to or from the airport stations. Click to enlarge. (Source: Sydney Trains)

A stations access fee of $12.30 is currently payable for anyone travelling to or from the airport stations. Click to enlarge. (Source: Sydney Trains)

However, this remains an opposition and cross bench led inquiry, and the reduction or removal of the access fee is not currently supported by the government, who point out that any money raised goes into general revenue and has already been accounted for in the budget. Despite this, construction of the M5 East expansion as part of WestConnex in the latter part of this decade would be assisted by even a temporary cut in the access fee in order to reduce the already high congestion around Sydney Airport when construction of WestConnex makes it even worse.

  1. Tony Bailey says:

    Mascot Patronage has increased by much more than 50%-

    Botany Bay Council has reported that patronage at Mascot Station since
    the abolition of the gate fee has risen from 3,000 per day to 12,000 per

    I would suspect that Green Square would show a similar percentage increase

  2. Greg Seeney says:

    I know this is probably never going to be politically popular, but to get a good drop in traffic I think that a carrot and stick style overall package is needed. To make it work it probably all needs to be announced at once but certain elements could be staged.

    The package would consist of:

    – Gate fee removed from Airport Link stations
    – Toll introduced on existing M5 East
    – Extra services introduced from the SW through airport link (as SWRL comes online)

    The extra services can be introduced at the timing that suits the SWRL completion and should reduce crowding levels on the Airport line.

    The removal of the gate fees and the introduction of a toll on the existing M5 East should be introduced at the same time so that they are linked in the eyes of the public.

    Unlikely to happen as it would mean there was a toll on an unimproved road that is currently free, but it would be the most likely way to keep the traffic flowing!

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