Traffic banked up on the freeway

The pandemic makes the case for congestion charging even stronger

by Marion Terrill

Excessive congestion was already a substantial problem in Sydney before the COVID-19 pandemic, costly to the economy and annoying to drivers. The ‘avoidable cost’ of congestion was estimated at $6.1 billion in 2015, and the total cost of congestion in Sydney, the Hunter, and Illawarra at $8 billion in 2016.

Now, with activity picking up around the city, but a stronger incentive to drive, there’s a disaster in the making, if the NSW Government does nothing to manage the growth in peak-period driving in busy parts of the city.

Congestion charging would help Sydney to work better. Grattan Institute’s high-level cost-benefit analysis shows that a cordon charge around the CBD would offer net benefits to the community, and a pathway towards a more comprehensive road-user charging scheme.

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