LOOMING toll increases for heavy vehicles by Melbourne CityLink operator Transurban have been branded discriminatory by transport body the Victorian Transport Association.
Tolls for heavy vehicles using CityLink will increase for day and night travel from April 1, with operators set to pay up to 125% more during the day.
VTA chief executive Peter Anderson said the outcome was disappointing.
“The new CityLink pricing discriminates against the heavy vehicle industry compared to other road users, and is dependent upon the industry passing on what can only be described as dramatic cost increases to remain viable,” Mr Anderson said.
“Regrettably, little can be done now to revert the changes as the business case on which they were made was put forward to the government years ago.
“The new pricing agreed by the current Government reflects huge increases in the tolling values, and does nothing to discourage heavy vehicles from using smaller arterial roads.”
Mr Anderson said there had been little justification from Transurban or the Government for such a large increase and the increases would create additional hardship for an industry under pressure from “razor thin” margins.
“For the heavy vehicle industry these increases will lead to unprecedented percentage increases in direct operating costs, which will be exacerbated through difficulty recovering costs from customers on fixed contracts,” he said.
“Road users on smaller, arterial roads will also suffer the unintended consequences as heavy vehicles may opt to bypass CityLink altogether and use other roads. This is clearly not the preferred option but it is inevitably one that operators who cannot absorb the higher tolls will consider.”
Mr Anderson encouraged operators to integrate the direct operating cost of the increase into their cost model and inform customers of the need to accept an uncontrollable cost.
Mr Anderson said the VTA is currently in discussion with Transurban and the Government on the pricing regime for the proposed Western Distributor.