August 26, 2003

Congestion Charge being discussed in Sydney

Michael Jennings | London Congestion Charging | Road Pricing

This article from the Sydney Morning Herald suggests that a London style congestion charge is under consideration in Sydney, Australia.


In a submission to the State Government's Parry inquiry into public transport funding, Garry Glazebrook, a transport and urban planner, has outlined a model for a CBD "cordon toll" that he said would raise more than $60 million annually.

Just as a quick observation, although Lucy Turnbull, who is Lord Mayor of Sydney, is quoted extensively in the article, she has very little influence over whether such a charge would be brought in. The real power to introduce it is in the hands of the state government, in particular Premier Bob Carr. Although this has been supposedly suggested by an "independent consultant" in all likelihood what is happening is that the government is behind this and is throwing the idea in the air to see what kind of response it gets.

Also, it clearly hasn't been very well thought through yet. The proposal being suggested is pretty much a carbon copy of the London scheme, complete with enforcement throught photography of car number plates. There is no way whatsoever that such a charging mechanism would be used in Sydney. Large numbers of motorists already have electronic tags in their cars for use in paying to use Sydney's considerable number of toll roads. I would be amazed if a congestion charge system was introduced and it did not use an extension of this existing electronic charging system.

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Comments

It really is astonishingly similar even down to the revenue being used for public transport and proposals for nurses to be exempt.

Posted by Patrick Crozier on August 26, 2003

What is the justification?

What would the justification be for congestion pricing in Sydney? Admittedly I didn't drive myself anywhere while I was there, but observing from the passenger seat I received the impression of traffic somewhere between Seattle's and Chicago's in intensity - nothing like the madhouse of central London. Why would such a scheme be needed?

Cranky

Posted by Cranky Observer on August 27, 2003

I don't know Seattle and Chicago, but I used to live in Sydney, and I would disagree. Traffic in central Sydney during working hours can also be a madhouse. It's a badly congested city. It has narrow streets, relatively limited public transport, and geography that makes things awkward. Melbourne is not much smaller a city but lacks these problems and has little in the way of congestion. (The one thing that is different between Sydney and London is that Sydney is doing a lot about this by building new roads - often privately built and financed through tolls - whereas London is not. These new roads will certainly reduce the amount of through traffic going through the centre of the city, but as for traffic where the centre is the destination, well this may even be increased). The area that this congestion charge is proposed for is rather smaller than in London, but the congestion within it is considerable.

Patrick, the one area where this proposal does differ from the one in London is that the charge is proposed to run 24 hours a day on weekdays, but not at all on weekends. This is silly: no city is congested at 3am, and certainly not Sydney. As I said, this is in the very early stages of discussion.

Posted by Michael Jennings on August 27, 2003

Actually, I have been in a jam in London at 3am.

Posted by Patrick Crozier on August 29, 2003

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