Council’s call to give you road toll discounts
BRISBANE City Council has urged Transurban to offer discounts to regular toll road users to help ease worsening traffic congestion.
In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, the council added its voice to growing calls for operator Transurban to offer discounts or incentive schemes on southeast Queensland's network of six toll roads.
"Council also supports the concept of price bundling for the use of multiple toll roads as a measure to reduce demand on the un-tolled surface network, however, this is a matter for (Transurban) to consider," the submission said.
Transurban group executive Queensland Sue Johnson said patronage had reached record levels with 146 million trips made on Brisbane's toll roads last year.
"Toll prices were set by the government of the day in 2014 when we borrowed and raised $7 billion to purchase Queensland Motorways," she said.
"At that point the government could have chosen to reduce the toll price but that would have resulted in a lower sale price for the government and for Queenslanders."
The inquiry, launched after Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington raised concerns about customer complaints about Transurban and the failure of the toll road system to reduce congestion, will hold a public hearing on Monday with a final report due by September 13.
The inquiry has received nearly 200 submissions.
Consumer advocate group Toll Redress accused Transurban of stinging customers with "egregious fees and charges" and threatening and intimidating actions.
"They aggressively pursue customers who have not paid their tolls for one reason or another, applying administration fees that can represent more than 80 per cent of the total bill," the group's submission said.
"One hundred dollars of tolls can have $600 in administration fees added".
According to Toll Redress, Transurban made 688 claims against customers in Queensland magistrates courts between July 3, 2017 and June 29, 2018.
The average claim was $6,956.95 while the highest amount claimed was $50,573.46.
Ms Johnson said working with the State Government and Brisbane City Council had led to an estimated 1.7 million fewer demand notices being issued to customers and a reduction of up to $36.5 million per year in fees.
"We would prefer no one pays fees and have made a lot of changes over the past 18 months to make it easier for people to pay for their travel and avoid fees," she said.
"This has meant less fees for customers and far fewer customer complaints."
South West Brisbane Community Legal Centre said in its submission that it had received an increase in requests for assistance from clients with demands for payment of unpaid tolls. Their community partners had recorded a "knock-on effect in the growth of requests for emergency aid".