ELECTRONIC TOLLING INITIATIVES
The Hon. IAN WEST:
My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads. Will the Minister update the House on the Government's new electronic tolling initiatives for Sydney's motorway network?
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL:
As I have previously reported to the House, the Iemma Government is committed to making Sydney's motorway network cashless. More and more motorists are taking advantage of E-tags for getting around our great city. That is why we have taken the first steps to making the Sydney Harbour Bridge cashless. An extra E-tag lane was added to the bridge last month and from next month another four lanes will be converted from cash to electronic tolling. Part of the process is improving the electronic tolling products available to motorists. The Roads and Traffic Authority has developed a short-term E-tag to be made available for casual users of all Sydney's motorways. This product gives rural and regional motorists a more convenient way of using Sydney's motorways. This tag can be used on all of Sydney's motorways. It is aimed at motorists who are travelling on toll roads over a short period of time and makes travelling around Sydney as easy as renting a DVD.
This new product means that visitors to Sydney are spared the hassle of calling individual motorways and paying tolls over the phone. Motorists can just pick up the short-term E-tag from a participating motor registry and give it back when they are finished with it. It costs just $5 a week plus the cost of the tolls. Once the tag is handed back there are no more fees. The toll fees will be automatically charged to the visitor's credit card. The short-term E-tag is currently being trialled at the Roads and Traffic Authority's Bathurst, Campbelltown, Charlestown, Wollongong and Gosford motor registries. Last week I was pleased to announce that the Maitland Roads and Traffic Authority is being included in the trial. I launched the Maitland trial with the hardworking member for Maitland, Frank Terenzini, and the hardworking staff at the Maitland registry, including Maitland registry services manager Clint Carter, the registry services operations manager RTA North Beryl Bowen, and the regional manager for the Hunter Roads and Traffic Authority Jim Peachman. Following the trial, the tag will be rolled out to all E-toll motor registries across the State by the end of July.
The short-term E-tag means there is no deposit to pay, no vehicle matching fee and no limit on the number of weeks that the tag is active. Currently, people visiting Sydney for a short time can register for an E-toll pass on selected motorways but the pass does not yet operate between all motorways. This new short-term rental E-tag can be used on all motorways in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. The Iemma Government is committed to taking Sydney's motorway network fully cashless. We did it with the harbour tunnel last year and it worked. It is one of the few places in the world where there has been a successful transition from a cash toll to a fully cashless tolling process. The smooth transition is a credit to motorists who accepted the move to cashless tolling. It was a major step forward for the Sydney road network.
Now we are taking the first steps to making the Sydney Harbour Bridge cashless. The move to cashless tolling means less queuing at tollbooths and no more searching pockets and ashtrays for coins. The Roads and Traffic Authority will continue to closely monitor the uptake of electronic tags before the Government makes a final decision on when the Sydney Harbour Bridge will become fully cashless. More information on the short term E-tag is available from the Roads and Traffic Authority website. I urge all interested members to log onto www.rta.nsw.gov.au. or www.myrta.com, which are both excellent web sites for information about the Roads and Traffic Authority.