Congestion tax in mix for Sydney CBD, secret document revealed

“I expect the departments to look at all options — that’s their job — but it’s clear that not every option will eventually become government policy.”

Introducing a congestion charge would be politically charged. Former Transport Secretary Andrew Constance ruled out such a charge in 2019.

The draft paper also proposes changes to Sydney’s road network to better serve cyclists and pedestrians. Credit:James Brickwood

Labor leader Chris Minns said motorists in western Sydney will bear the brunt of future congestion and distance-based charges.

“Here we go again. The NSW government is out of money, and it is motorists who will pay,” he said.

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“It’s no surprise that West Sydney will again lose the most, without proper public transport and infrastructure to get around the city.”

Minns, who has considered tolls a key issue ahead of next year’s state election, said it would only get more expensive to own a car in Sydney.

The government is conducting a comprehensive review of Sydney’s toll roads, and Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet has indicated it is considering more distance-based charges.

The confidential document from February this year spurs the government’s work on “leading reforms” of road charges, citing a 2.5 per kilometer road charge for light electric vehicles from 2027.

As the government grapples with a rise in the cost of mega transportation projects, the strategy paper warns that financial pressures from the state’s burgeoning road and rail networks “continue to grow” as revenue sources stagnate.

“Private vehicles will remain an important part of the transportation landscape, but we cannot afford to expand our networks further to handle unlimited growth, especially during peak periods,” the document states.

Changes in public transport fares to “reflect the true costs of travel” and taxes on new developments are among the possible measures outlined in the long-term strategy paper to “extend revenue sources”.

The strategy also proposes changing the way the city’s road network is used to prioritize pedestrians.

“Given the limited space available to road users in many built-up areas, this may involve the physical reallocation of road space to ensure there is adequate space for pedestrians,” the document reads.

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