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The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has labelled the recent announcements of toll increases for heavy vehicles using Melbourne’s CityLink as “discriminatory”.
CityLink operator, Transurban, has confirmed that from 1 April 2017 tolls for heavy vehicles using the freeway will increase for day and night travel, with operators paying up to 125 per cent more during the day under the capped arrangement.
In relaying the toll changes to members, VTA CEO, Peter Anderson, said it was disappointing the increases were not reflective of the position the VTA had taken with Transurban and the Government in determining the cost recovery required for CityLink Tullamarine Widening works being carried out.
“Unfortunately, the new CityLink pricing discriminates against the heavy vehicle industry compared to other road users, and is dependent upon the ‘industry’ passing on what can only be described as dramatic cost increases to remain viable,” he said.
“The new pricing agreed by the current Government reflects huge increases in the tolling values, and does nothing to discourage heavy vehicles from using smaller arterial roads.
“There has also been little justification from Transurban or the Government for such a large increase. The benefits associated with this widening project will have greater benefit to car users, which have had only a moderate five per cent increase in their tolls. The change in the multiple of Heavy Vehicle costing to cars has also had no explanation.”
Anderson said the discriminatory increases would undoubtedly create additional hardship for an industry already under pressure from razor thin margins. “For the heavy vehicle industry, these increases will lead to unprecedented percentage increases in direct operating costs, which will be exacerbated through difficulty recovering costs from customers on fixed contracts, he explained.
“Road users on smaller, arterial roads will also suffer the unintended consequences as heavy vehicles may opt to bypass CityLink altogether and use other roads. This is clearly not the preferred option but it is inevitably one that operators who cannot absorb the higher tolls will choose.”
Anderson said the VTA is currently in discussion with Transurban and the Government on the pricing regime for the proposed Western Distributor.