When the Motorcycle Council of NSW has questioned government why this is so, the reason given is:-
The MCC has supplied research that determined that a motorcycle in free running motorway occupies only half the space of a car. (Read more….)
The MCC has repeatedly asked for evidence to support this false claim but none has been provided by government.
In 2020 large caravans started to be charged at the same rate as a truck. This resulted in the Minister for Roads granting a rebate. (Read more here… https://www.nsw.gov.au/news/toll-rebates-for-caravans-boats-and-horse-floats)
The decision to introduce a rebate supports the view that the classification of vehicles is deeply embedded in the Public Private Partnership contracts that established the tollways, otherwise why wouldn’t the Minister just instruct the tollway operators to revert to the previous practice of charging large caravans at the car rate rather than introduce a rebate.
If it is appropriate to give large caravan owners a rebate, why isn’t it appropriate to give motorcyclists a rebate?
An article on the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald dated 17th February 2022 “Push of higher tolls on bridge and tunnel” says that Premier Dominic Perrottet has committed to reform the tolling regime ahead of next year’s state election.
It has been suggested that tolls will become an issue in next year’s state election which will be held on Saturday 25th March 2023.
It’s now time to change tack and ask for a debate in Parliament to either change how motorcycles are classified in the Public Private Partnership contracts or provide us with a rebate similar to that for large caravans.
Support the MCC’s campaign to debate this issue in parliament by signing our petition that is currently being prepared. Click there to register your interest in signing the petition when it becomes available. (provide link)
Before the introduction of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel the car toll on the Harbour Bridge was 20 cents and the toll for a motorcycle 5 cents. It is the Motorcycle Council of NSW’s view that a motorcycle toll should be a quarter of that of a car.
On tollways in Victoria that charge motorcycles a toll, the rate is half that of a car. http://www.gazette.vic.gov.au/gazette/Gazettes2021/GG2021G024.pdf#page=44
Similarly the motorcycle toll in Queensland is half that of a car, https://www.linkt.com.au/using-toll-roads/about-brisbane-toll-roads/toll-pricing/brisbane
There are a number of reasons why a motorcycle toll should be a fraction of that of a car:-
A) A motorcycle occupies much less road space than a car.
How much road space a vehicle occupies is normally expressed in terms of Passenger Car Equivalents or Units (pcu). A car has a pcu value of unity
A report by Professor Marcus Wigan titled “Motorcycle Transport, Powered Two Wheelers in Victoria” prepared for VicRoads concludes on page 49 that “The best available figure for Motorcycle pcu in free running motorway conditions is currently 0.5 ± 0.1”
A copy of Professor Wigan’s report can be found at:- https://mccofnsw.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/mwigan-motorcycles-as-transport-1-00-Oxford2000Vol1_1f.pdf
While the value of 0.5 is for free flowing traffic, as the traffic becomes more congested and motorcycles lane filter, the pcu for this situation would be zero.
Therefore, a motorcycle toll based on how much road space it occupies, would be somewhere between half and zero of that of a car toll.
B: The benefit gained by a motorcyclist is less than that of a car driver
The setting of tolls is based on Transport for NSW’s “Principles and Guidelines for Economic Appraisal of Transport Investment and Initiatives, June 2018”, however Table 1 of Appendix 4, the Value of Travel Time does not include motorcycles.
Therefore, it is necessary to use the information available to calculate the benefit to a motorcyclist.
Table 1 sets the car occupancy in urban areas as 1.4. While motorcycles can carry a pillion, the frequency of this occurring is low so the ‘occupancy’ rate for a motorcycle would be about 1.1.
Table 1 also gives the value of travel time for a private car as $16.89 per person per hour. As the toll on the M5 at the time set at $4.71 then this toll represents a time saving of 17 minutes.
As motorcycles can legally lane filter and use bus lanes, the time saving for a motorcyclist using a tollway would be less than that for a car occupant. The saving of half that of a car, or 8.5 minutes, would be a reasonable estimate.
Taking into consideration the reduced occupancy rate and the reduced saving in time, a motorcycle toll should be around a third of that of a car.
C: Cost to provide and maintain the infrastructure are the same
As a motorcycle size and weight is more akin to that of a bicycle than a car, the cost to provide infrastructure for motorcyclists would be more akin to that of providing cycleways than it would be to provide a tollway for a car.
As bicycles are not charged to use cycleway facilities on or beside tollways, this would suggest that the toll for a motorcyclist should be somewhere between that of a bicycle and that of a car.
The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) equation for road wear, called the ‘Generalised Fourth Power Law’ is often used to compare the damage caused by vehicles of different weights.
Using the Generalised Fourth Power Law, a passenger car that has an axle load of 800kg compared to a motorcycle with an axle load of 100kg, the passenger car would cause 4,000 times the road wear and tear as a motorcycle.
D: Additional cost to implement a specific motorcycle toll
No additional equipment would be required to collect a motorcycle specific toll
Current equipment is able to read a motorcycle numberplate and then process this information to charge the correct account. As motorcyclists are not required to carry an E-Tag, systems are already able to distinguish a motorcycle from other vehicles so as not to apply a charge for numberplate matching. The only change required would be the ability to charge a different rate. This ability already exists to be able to differentiate between a car and truck toll.