Western Sydney mayors call for more tolling equity

PASSION: Groups including No WestConnex, Public Transport, the WestConnex Action Group, Residents Against Western Sydney Airport staged a protest.

PASSION: Groups including No WestConnex, Public Transport, the WestConnex Action Group, Residents Against Western Sydney Airport staged a protest.

Two western Sydney mayors have called for more equity in road tolling and an introduction of capping similar to the Opal card.

Penrith mayor John Thain and Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali fronted the second day of the NSW Upper House inquiry into NSW road tolls on Wednesday at Penrith Library.

Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) chief executive Charles Casuscelli also appeared before the hearing, which saw the Sydney-based inquiry committee travel to Penrith by bus, paying a total of $28 one-way in tolls.

In his opening statement to the committee, Cr Thain said tolls were a “hot topic” in the community, particularly the soon-to-be-reintroduced M4 toll.

Two out of three Penrith residents traveled out of the area for work and asking them to pay about $6500 per year by 2019 to travel on what was currently a free road would be a burden on local families, he said.

The toll should be capped in a manner similar to the Opal card to provide more equity in road tolling, Cr Thain said.

Cr Bali said costs added up for western Sydney residents, who also paid more in extra expenses such as petrol, and agreed capping was an “acceptable principle”.

“It’s just ridiculous, we’re paying tax upon tax, and then losing quality of life time spending it with the family,” he said. “There’s got to be a fairer, more equitable way of working out how to fund infrastructure.”​

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