Toll increases on the Lane Cove Tunnel, the Cross City Tunnel and the M7 Westlink have angered commuters who are frustrated at the lack of cheap and efficient transport options in Sydney's west and northwest.
With North Shore residents attracting only the Sydney Harbour Bridge toll, and those in the southwest getting the M5 toll reimbursed, those in Sydney's northwest claim the State Government's tolling policy is discriminatory.
"If you want to get to the city faster you've got no choice but to drive," said father-of-two Mark Unwin, 42. "I live at Kellyville Ridge and my wife and I pay almost $17 in tolls per day to get to North Ryde and back home for work. The only other option is to get a bus - that's a trip of about an hour and 45 minutes each way."
Kristine Elliott, of Bella Vista, said her commute to work at Rosebery each day begins at 5.45am to avoid the heavy traffic along the toll roads. She uses the M7, M2, the Lane Cove Tunnel, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Eastern Distributor, a trip that costs $23.56 return.
"It chews up my car allowance," she said. "When you're paying that kind of money, you wonder why you bother working at all."
Many argue the rising cost of Sydney's toll roads has made it too expensive to travel to the city for shopping, trips to the beach or entertainment. From Rouse Hill, site of the State Government's scrapped northwest metro link, a trip to Bondi Beach costs $10.78.
Families taking public transport can catch a bus to Blacktown, a train to Bondi Junction and another bus to Bondi Beach - but it takes more than two hours. And yesterday the cost of single train tickets for trips of fewer than 35kms rose by 20c-60c.
"It's not just the cost, it's the time," said Mark Condon, 25, of Windsor, of commuting from the northwest. He drives to Rhodes each day for work, using the M7 and M4, "I sit in traffic for three hours each day. That's time I could be spending at the gym or with my family."
And from January 27, the cost for motorists crossing the Harbour Bridge in peak times will rise from $3 to $4, although North Shore residents get off lightly if going into town.
Even commuters from large slabs of southwest Sydney get a better deal, given the Cashback scheme former Premier Bob Carr introduced in 1996 when he backflipped on a promise to scrap tolls. The cost of the M4 and M5 tolls, if using E-Toll tags, is reimbursed by the Government, meaning all taxpayers have paid $689 million since its inception.
But it is those coming from the southern suburbs - Sutherland Shire and Cronulla way - who have escaped paying any tolls.
Source - Daily Telegraph