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The disadvantages of toll roads in Australia There are a number of disadvantages of toll roads in Australia.

One is the increased operating

cost of vehicles to motorists. In addition to taxes that are directed to road development, motorists are required to pay toll fees to use some roads. Sometimes, these fees are not justified especially when the value of using the road is considered. For instance, while one of the main purposes of toll roads is to facilitate speedy movement of motorists this requirement is not always fulfilled by the toll roads despite motorist paying high fees. The other disadvantage of toll roads is the inherent extra costs associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of toll plazas and facilities for toll collection. A considerable amount of revenue is used in finance the toll collection itself. Elsewhere, the cash-back scheme introduced by the Australian government to compensate motorists who are charged toll-fees on public roads adds to the cost of managing toll roads (Australian Parliament 2008, p. 5710).

It is also a disadvantage that the toll roads system is associated with corruption and revenue theft (Roth 1998, p. 122), and loss of income to its builders. For instance, revenue officers involved in collection of tolls in manual toll collection system may take bribes to allow motorists to use the road. It is also possible for motorists using toll roads with an open system of toll collection to evade toll-fees because they can enter the toll road after a toll barrier (plaza) and exit before the next toll barrier. This causes revenue loss to the owners and operators of toll road. Furthermore, since the toll roads are integrated within the entire road network in various Australia regions, builders may not capture the full benefits of investing in toll roads because of competing toll-free roads. Many users are dissuaded from using them in normal circumstances. Thus user benefits are transferred to the parallel roads. This results in reduced socio-economic return for the toll roads project (Bousquet & Fayard 2001, p8).

The disadvantages of toll roads in Australia

The means of paying toll fees, which is an integral aspect of toll roads, presents a number of disadvantages. One of the obvious drawbacks with manual system of toll collection is the need to stop or slow down at the toll plazas. This causes time wastage to motorists. The electronic toll collection system (e-tag system), which aims to ease the drawbacks of the manual system, is not without its disadvantages. The e-tag system used in Australian toll roads poses great danger to confidentiality of location or address of motorists (Stough 2003, p. 26). The enforcement of toll fees involves identification of the location of motorists. Such information can be intercepted by criminals who can use it to perpetrate criminal activities to commuters. The toll roads where only e-tags are used in paying toll fees can sometimes be an inconvenience to motorists in needing to travel urgently. Thus, a commuter must obtain the e-tag, which might not be easy considering the process involved, and the distance of an e-tag outlet relative to the location of the motorist. The e-tag system has the disadvantage of unequal service to different kinds of motorists. For instance, in the NWS motorbikes users face a challenge in obtaining e-tags and are often required to own a car before they can obtain an e-tag (Motorcycle Council of NWS, N.d.; Tibbitts, 2009). Even with provision of e-tags to motorbike users by some toll roads operators, the issues of these etags suitability in regards to weather, open-air conditions, and limited area to stick it on a motorbike still arise (Motorcycle Council of NWS, N.d.). In many cases, therefore, motorbike users are forced to pay higher premium because of penalties or administration fees associated with use of toll roads without the e-tags.

Social consideration and public opposition to toll roads

The disadvantages of toll roads in Australia The social considerations in the development of toll roads in Australia are varied. To start with tolls roads have been proposed and constructed to facilitate movement of motorists. Thus, the

need to link various parts of Australia is a basic concern. However, the income level of people is also a concern in the development of toll roads in Australia. The toll-fees are a challenge to some people especially from the rural areas and those in the low-income bracket. This may explain the concentration of toll roads in metropolitan areas as opposed to rural areas. Furthermore, there are alternative parallel toll-free routes to the toll roads, which may serve the needs for low-income earners. The use of toll revenue is a concern associated with toll roads. Bousquet and Fayard (2001, p8) illustrates that revenue application represents an obstacle to optimised distribution of funding resources and evades democratic control. In this case, public interests are at stake especially if there is more emphasis on economic benefits than social benefits.

The other concern is the acceptability by the community. It is of great importance that a toll road is approved by the people using it. Otherwise, if people fail to see the need of a toll road, they may develop opposition that can lead to consequences such as low returns and or political consequences.

The public opposition to toll roads in Australia is evident and varied. The opposition has often been based on various aspects namely the toll charges, method of toll payment, additional benefits, and availability of alternative toll-free routes and taxes for roads development. Thus a number of people are opposed to the apparently high fees associated the toll roads. Failure by these roads to meet the expectation of users such as decongestion has prompted criticism for the construction of toll roads. The disadvantages associated with both the manual and electronic toll

The disadvantages of toll roads in Australia collection has provided an avenue for the public to oppose the development of the toll roads. In addition, the toll roads have been opposed by some people on the basis that the government imposes taxes meant for the road sector. This has compelled the government to introduce a shadow-tolls concept (Poole & Sugimoto 1995) such that people who pay toll fees by the

operators are later compensated by the government. However, this has raised more concern over the cost, viability and efficiency of such a system. Thus, there is considerable opposition in regards to development of toll roads in Australia.

The disadvantages of toll roads include increased operating cost of vehicles to motorists; unjustifiable fees in case the road does not offer the decongestion benefit; presence of the inherent extra costs associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of facilities for toll collection; and use of a cash-back scheme that adds to the cost of managing toll roads. The transfer of user benefits to the competitive toll-free routes as well as revenue theft and evasion reduces the socio-economic benefits of tolls roads. The manual systems cause time wastage to motorists when they stop or slow down at toll plazas. The e-tag system poses the danger of locational confidentiality. It also involves additional costs for toll fees enforcement, and may be inconvenient especially in obtaining the tag. It allows inequality of service to different kinds of motorists.

Many people are opposed to high toll fees, lack of toll roads to offer decongestion benefits, double taxation for road use, and costs unnecessary costs associated toll roads development, maintenance and operation.

The disadvantages of toll roads in Australia

The disadvantages of toll roads in Australia Reference list

Australian Parliament 2008. Parliamentary debates Australia: House of Representatives, Volume 135. Commonwealth Govt. Printer, Australia.

Bousquet, F. & Fayard, A. 2001. Road Infrastucture Concession Practice in Europe. World Bank Publications.

Motorcycle Council of NWS, N.d. E-tags & Problems. Web. 14 May 2010, http://www.mccofnsw.org.au/a/223.html

Motorcycle Council of NWS, N.d. E-tags. Web. 14 May 2010, http://www.mccofnsw.org.au/a/127.html.

Poole, R.W. & Sugimoto, Y. 1995. Congestion relief toll tunnels. Transportation, Vol. 22. No. 4 pp. 327-351.

Roth, G 1998. Roads in a market economy. Ashgate Publishing Company, United Kingdom.

Stough, R. 2003. Transport and information systems. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Tibbitts, A. 2009. RTA backs down on e-tags for motorcyclists, The Sydney Morning Herald. Web. 14 May 2010, http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/rta-backs-down-on-etags-formotorcyclists/2009/01/05/1231003937337.html.