M5 East - a Motorway in Sydney Which Was Free for The Last 19 Years Is Now Tolled - What Is Your Opinion?

I was surprised when I found my regular "Avoid Tolls" route to work is not the same anymore today, so I decided to take another look.

Turns out, M5 East is now tolled. So far I only lost around $14 to it yesterday and was a bit of a surprise when I checked my e-toll statement.

It would be OK if it was refundable under the M5 Cashback scheme, but now M5 has 2 tolls - M5 SouthWest and M5 East, which are charged separately and only M5 SouthWest is available for cashback.

I thought the whole point of tolls was to compensate the cost of the road (even though our tax money has already been used to pay for it)?

Why would it get tolled? Especially now that people are struggling with money, government decided to charge money for a road that was free for ~2 decades when it is of most importance to travel to work? What is their reasoning?

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Comments

  • M8

    • I was driving the same route I drove for weeks when M8 was closed and I drove it again yestarday. It was always free, now it is tolled.
      I never cared about M8 and I am not planning to use it, why should I be paying?

      • Last night i was about to take m5 then took other route, i think they put toll there to get some money back they used in m8. In one scenario if i am paying toll then why would i want to be stuck at the entrance which is same for both.

      • M8 is effectively a duplication of M5 East. The toll has been put on both to prevent drivers clogging one to avoid the toll on the other.

        • +22 votes

          Now drivers are just clogging the local roads leaving both M5 and M8 empty, especially HEAVY VEHICLES. I was driving on Forest Rd. and Stoney Creek Road yesterday. It was already bumper-to-bumper at 3pm. Can't imagine what it will be like during peak hours. With all the heavy vehicles speeding and running yellow lights, it was actually very DANGEROUS too!

          Good job Berejiklian!

          • +29 votes

            @nosrad: *Koala Killer.

          • @nosrad: @nosrad: Gladys Berejiklian use to be the Transport Minister until she was handed the Premier title on a plate; those poor decisions continue to happen under Andrew Constance now.

            You won't see any relief in the traffic with peak hours now changing on Sydney trains network from 7am - 9am and 4pm - 6.30pm to a ridiculous 6.30am - 10am and 3pm to 7pm. The incentives to catch transport are diminishing… Let alone barely usable on the weekends due to trackwork.
            They might word it due to loss of income because of COVID-19 but I doubt this move will be reversible when things go back to 'normal'. On a side note more people are travelling via car so more toll, fuel tax money there right…

            Ultimately, Sydney transport and the Govt. is a shambles when it comes to these major projects blowing out, poorly designed tram system in the CBD and Tolls left right and centre.

            Good luck trying to save if you live further out and getting home at a reasonable time.

      • User pays. Whats the problem?

  • gov't has to milk as much as they can.

    • +39 votes

      Government?? I think you mean Connex. They will be taking 90+% of that toll for themselves and passing only a fraction of it onto the government.

      • +34 votes

        What’s the difference between the government and connex at this point? They have their hands in each other’s pockets. Well, not the government directly because that would benefit the public. The politicians.

      • You mean 50%.

    • M5 Southwest is a privatised road tolled to make a profit for the profit seekign entity that owns it.

      M5 East is a state Government owned road.

    • Yep, expect cash grabs and cost cutting in most of the economy from COVID.

  • If you want a succinct explanation of how this came about, FriendlyJordies got ya back.

  • So just to confirm, the regular M5 will still have the cashback scheme, and that's not going anywhere, right?

    Is it:

    $4.85 (cashback) and then $6.95 for the M5 East which isn't refundable at all?

    • Yes, cashback applies to M5 SouthWest only, but not M5 East.

      So your $4.85 + $6.95(maximum M5 East charge) trip will cost $7.45 after M5 cashback, even though you were driving on M5 only.

      • Thanks so much for clarifying this! I was searching the internet for ages trying to find a definitive answer. Appreciate your help.

        • yes. Use M5 until King Georges Road. Exit KGR and take Canterbury Road. That is what i do now for work.

  • +19 votes

    the government are pricks, that's why. they say that the M8, and these tolls will "improve congestion" when all it will do is increase congestion on free alternatives. look at the M4 and parramatta Rd…

    • +28 votes

      Building new roads just moves congestion. Tolled or otherwise. This government are a bunch of ideologue neoliberals putting taxpayer money in their mates' pockets.

    • Exactly. The M4 was tolled (cashback) and then untolled for years, working well. Now they added a couple of lanes to guide you onto the new tunnel road but toll you all the way back to where it was untolled for years now. These extra lanes aren't even used as half the people that did use the M4 have jumped back onto Parramatta road. So now we have empty toll road, congested Parra road.
      To top it off, going along James Ruse Drive to M4 going west, they added an extra lane for a hundred meters and charge on that, so its single lane ON/OFF, with a section of "new" dual lane and charge you $2 for the privilege.

      The weekends on Parra road are mayhem, a trip that used to take 20min is now an hour as people avoiding the toll road.
      My favourite was one of the politicians saying he doesn't mind paying the tolls and doesn't understand why others are complaining.. like he actually pays his toll, or even drives his own car :\

      • exactly this! i avoid toll roads as much as i can because i refuse to pay for something twice (we already pay for roads through rego, taxes, etc. however, sometimes it is innevitable, and you need to just pay the toll and move on.

        it's all just a crock of shit. Politicians are like uni academics - they live in a theoretical world, but don't understand that their theoretical "policies" do not work in practise. none of these muppets understand the general public (well… there are a few good ones - Ed Husic in Federal Parliament for one).

      • The M4 toll re-introduction pisses me off to no end. We (NSW taxpayers) paid for the road via taxes and tolls, and when it was finally paid off, we have to pay again to have to widened to accommodate the zillions more foreigners they've crammed into Sydney. If levies on new apartment complexes aren't sufficient to pay for infrastructure, then what's the benefit of having all these new people in Sydney? It doesn't even maintain the status-quo, it actually decreases the qualify of life for everyone else. Absolutely pathetic!

        • Strathfield to Homebush Bay Drive had two lanes and they were toll free before reintroduction of M4 toll.

          Now the same section has only one lane and it is now tolled.

          What’s improvement to drivers' experience?

          • @uniwon: I agree - no improvement whatsoever. The increase in traffic due to over-population has already negated any benefits, and, as you've pointed out, in some situations there were never any benefits to the "upgrade" to begin with!

  • That’s an absolute disgrace. If the road has already been paid for, how can they justify the toll?

    • +21 votes

      That's what public-private partnership means - we pay for it, the government pays a private company to do it, and then we pay for it again!

      • Ok but don't forget that the Transurban Shareholders get a nice raise on their share prices! It's in the public's interest, after all!!1!

        • Of course!!! Won't somebody think of the shareholders!??! That could be you, or me! Well… not you. Won't somebody think of me?!

      • M5 Southwest is PPP.

        M5 East is state government.

      • so, like Telstra; Commonwealth Bank and soon NBNCo

    • "Liberal Gov't"

  • They have to pay for their stadium upgrades, crooked sports grants and Parramatta powerhouse museum

    • Except a Parra museum is actually a good idea.

      Transurban should be building it as part of the deal though, hey

      • I grew up near Penrith, and as a kid, the school excursion bus trip to the Powerhouse museum in Ultimo was about 40 minutes. Not bad at all. It's nonsense that Parramatta desperately 'needs' more culture. Berejiklian just wanted to give the Ultimo land to her developer buddies. The Parramatta development is actually destroying some Parramatta historical sites. Not to mention being built on a floodplain.

        • I just heard from the PSA that the Powerhouse is now staying where it is and an additional museum will be built at Parra

      • It could be a good idea. I just roll my eyes at the fact that they’re going demolish heritage listed properties to build a museum.

      • IMHO where it is currently located is somewhat easy to access for most, and if it is moved to the west it will make it very inconvenient to go to for a lot

        • What about people in city, south west or other parts. City was central to all. transportation from Southwest to west is not that great and fast.

  • If you think tolls are bad. Just wait until the justification for dropping stamp duty for land tax to make things more fair.

    Property transactions dry up and state government still want their cash cow. In Victoria there is already land tax (on investment property) the bands never go up so everyone is progressively ending up paying more and more. Fun times ahead.

  • +19 votes

    dont care about car, i just want public transport to be cheap like in asian countries

    • Paying to share tin cans with 100 of strangers every day. No thanks. More and bigger roads please.

      • +10 votes

        More and bigger roads make more and bigger traffic. Induced demand.

        Build more roads and you will just shift bottlenecks around. Also they make for shit communities.

        • Sydney is a big city. I can still remember going to work at Botany before having a licence. Walk > bus > train > bus > walk then repeat on the way home. We did a job in Little bay not long ago. Got in the vehicle and turned on the AC and music. Relaxing drive all the way to work.

    • Won't ever happen. Sydney is too stupid and too spread out to have a real metro system. The sprawl of Sydney should've been reigned in decades ago. Too late now, the place is (profanity).

      • Sydney isn't actually very spread out by international standards. We could easily have an effective public transit system if we invested in it.

  • Unfortunately all governments are in a financial blackhole now due to COVID.

    I fully expected all levels of government to start up these shenanigans in the near future, someone HAS to pay for all that has happened.

  • Transport Planner/Engineer here,
    Australia's obsession with the car and building 'congestion busting roads' is what's ultimately holding us back.
    This is sapping money from infrastructure projects such as bicycles, trains, etc. All of which are known to move greater amounts of people more efficiently, however aren't major sources of income for the government.

    Unfortunately the government has a vested interest in making sure that there are as many cars on the roads as possible. Fuel taxes, road taxes, registration levies etc…
    Australia has gone the same way as America in allowing major corporation lobbyists to dictate what policies are to go through.

    Ideally we'd look at European towns such as Amsterdam, Singapore or Japan with their adoption of public transport and bicycle infrastructure, but until then, we'll all just continue to donate to the mighty private/government machine that is Transurban.

    How good is privatisation eh….

    • Also fwiw, congestion will always be a thing. 'Induced Demand' is what guides our system, with more roads, results in lower congestion, which incentivises people to drive resulting in increased congestion. It's a positive feedback loop with no end in sight.

      We've seen it in Perth, freeway upgrades finish, public transport uptake drops, cars increase, congestion increases and repeat. It's a never ending costly cycle (great for the engineers though).

    • You can't just apply the same model as those European towns to Australian cities. Everything is alot closer in those smaller but denser cities.

      • Public transports work in those countries (Singapore or Japan) because people live on top of each other.

      • I was born and raised in the Netherlands. People live in one city and travel to another city for work. A lot of this is via public transport, which works. I wouldn’t call it cheap, a return ticket from Rotterdam to Amsterdam did cost me a small fortune last time I was there, but hey, neoliberals are in charge there as well, and railways have been semi privatised.

      • You can't just say "those European towns" - they vary ENORMOUSLY. They don't only have good public transport because they are a specific size and density, they have it because they care about public services. Australia is much more "but what about ME" (not that it's anywhere near as bad as cesspits like the US!).

    • I drive my car to avoid all the weirdos on public transport

    • With hindsight, I wonder if we (the citizens & taxpayers) shouldn't have insisted that heavy rail and/or light rail be included in the westconnex tunnels (and all future tollroad tunnels), at no ongoing station access/toll cost to the taxpayer or commuter, as a precondition for their approval.

      Reason for this is that getting new rail routes built is hard and slow and expensive and political, and if they're building a tunnel anyway, then building an extra section for rail at the same time must enormously reduce the cost. And it also ensures that public transport improves and expands at the same time as road transport.

      Compare the routes for westconnex M4 & to Rozelle: https://www.westconnex.com.au/explore-westconnex/interactive...
      To the proposed Sydney Metro West: https://v2.communityanalytics.com.au/tfnsw/sydmetrowest/map#

      They're not 1-to-1, but they're remarkably similar. Proposed metro stations are usually within 1 km of the existing Westconnex route. But instead we have a situation where Westconnex M4 is completed, yet Sydney West Metro is still in the planning stage and even if everything goes as projected (which it never does) won't open until 2024. And that's if it even goes ahead - see the 2008 Sydney Metro proposal which cancelled in 2010 - so any public transport proposals in Sydney should be taken as castles-in-the-sky until large-scale construction actually starts. Personally I would take a good-enough certain expansion of public transport above a prefect expansion that may never happen and even if happens on schedule comes 5 years after the toll-road opening.

    • Tell me, is it me or just you know, our old town, old suburb look like european style, small, compact, walkable distance and more or less public transport friendly. However newer suburbs in the last 20,30 years look more and more amerinistan suburb, big arse houses which sometimes is too big for family of 3 big as road, central shopping square that dominated by big chain and some smaller shop around it?

  • Toll roads are too expensive in Sydney. Government needs to act urgently on this.

    • they wont, money under the table deals, let the public pick up the tab

    • NSW government already launched their grand toll-relief plan of granting free rego (which is like $100) if you pay something like >$1000 in tolls a year.

      ..I'm totally going to use toll roads now..

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