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Road tax finds support

A university study reveals Sydney motorists would support a London-style congestion tax

July 17, 2012

A University of Sydney study has found more than 80 percent of 200 motorists surveyed about traffic congestion in Sydney’s CBD would accept some form of road pricing scheme.

While the survey conducted by the Institute of Transport and Logistics’ Professor David Hensher, Professor John Rose and researcher Andrew Collins found a high level of support for a London style ‘congestion tax’, many motorists were opposed to a charge based on distance travelled.

Just over 62 per cent of participants favoured a cordon-based payment of $8 to enter the crowded Sydney CBD in peak hour and $3 outside of peak periods, and would be prepared to pay the charge on top of existing registration and fuel costs as long as 100 percent of the revenue was used to improve public transport.

This figure, the survey found, would drop to 49 percent support if revenue is not allocated fully to public transport.

The majority of survey participants’ support for any future road pricing reform extending beyond Sydney’s CBD and involving distance-based charges would be contingent on a reduction in other motoring costs, including registration fees and tolls.

ITLS research supports a model based on distance-based charging, rather than a congestion tax.

Hensher says recent ITLS modelling found that a metropolitan-wide, distance-based charging scheme that discouraged the use of private cars would significantly reduce congestion and raise funds for investment in road maintenance and public transport.

“The ITLS research found that a charge of 10 cents per kilometre would reduce overall car use by six per cent – enough to remove most of the serious traffic congestion in the Sydney metropolitan area,” he says.

“The charge would also generate revenues of more than $3 billion a year.”

Hensher says the ‘real enemy’ is the car.

“Our pricing model would certainly go a long way towards cutting private car usage,” he says.

“However, it is clear from our survey that the government may have to begin with a fixed CBD cordon charge.”

Professor Hensher will speak at an Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies seminar on road charging reform in Sydney on Thursday August 9.

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