The Transport Workers’ Union of NSW (TWU) have questions for both the NSW Government and Transurban, the operators of the soon to open NorthConnex tunnel.
Once the NorthConnex tunnel opens for business, it will cost heavy vehicle operators $23.50 per trip or they face a fine of nearly $200 dollars. For heavy vehicle operators there are no alternatives in place.
Richard Olsen, State Secretary of the TWU in NSW said, “The NSW Transport Minister claims that the new tunnel is about safety as well as congestion busting. If cars, trucks and buses are in NorthConnex tunnel are we just moving Pennant Hills road underground?”
“The delays experienced in in tunnels on the M5 and other motorways mean that we the TWU have some serious doubts about how effective the congestion busting will be. Maybe the NSW Government should keep cars out of the tunnel.” Mr Olsen said.
The TWU also questions the idea of the economic benefits for the transport industry of using the NorthConnex tunnel. According to the NSW Government, the NorthConnex will save Time, fuel and maintenance costs for operators.
Mr Olsen said, “TWU members have previously asked what the formula is for setting toll road costs. So far no-one has provided an answer. The costs of running a heavy vehicle are not getting any less. The money that the NSW Government says will be saved will go directly to Transurban in the $23.50 toll charged to heavy vehicles using the NorthConnex.”
Travelling the M7 and M2 with a heavy vehicle means another toll impost of nearly $40. The delays experienced in peak hours will also negate any time savings the tunnel might offer.
Mr Olsen said “Transport workers are tired of propping up private companies like Transurban, as one of the costs of being able to work. The amount of money that Transurban has no doubt raked in from heavy vehicle users on their Sydney road network has left our members frustrated, unable to understand how the charges are actually determined and unable to see over the mounting pile of expensive toll notices on their kitchen tables.”
During the Pandemic, Transurban has raised costs of their extensive toll road network in Sydney – during the Covid 19 pandemic. The NSW Government simply stood aside and let the company dive deeper into the wallets of Transport Workers.
The TWU has the proof, that truck operators, including owner drivers who are running small businesses are bearing the burden. Scott Chalmers, Transurban CEO made this comment in Fairfax Media, “Trucks are an important part of keeping life and our economy going, so it’s good for Transurban that large vehicle traffic can keep generating some earnings for the infrastructure business.”
Simply put Transurban Shareholders are benefiting directly from the NSW Government FORCING heavy vehicle drivers into the Tunnel. Transport operators are not. Heavy vehicle drivers will face fines if they do not use the tunnel. There is no “free choice” for them.
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