The Sydney Morning Herald ran a story recently which gave a glimpse into the congestion problems suffered by Sydney residents. The Lane Cove Tunnel is entirely dependent on government-created congestion to turn a profit.
The herald quotes figures made to a parliamentary inquiry last year that show when the route first opened as a free road for its first two weeks of operation, 75,000 vehicles went through.
Once the charge went to $2.55, usage went down by 34 percent (50,000 cars a day), this is nearly half of the number expected by the owners, Connector Motorways.
Once the tunnel toll was combined with the $1.27 paid for the 190 metres on the Falcon Street ramps (one of the most expensive toll roads in the world per km), the numbers fell once again, the Falcon Street Ramps suffered a 25 percent fall (3,000 a day) which subsequently affected Lane Cove Tunnel numbers.
The original idea was for the NSW government to deliberately create congestion on nearby Epping road (by narrowing lanes) to force motorists onto the tunnel. It was election time when the plan was meant to go ahead and hence someone in power realised this was not going to be popular and currently the plans have been delayed.
The delay has meant the NSW government has had to pay $25 million dollars of tax payer money to the toll road owners for not honouring its contractual obligations (to narrow Epping road).
Of course narrowing Epping road isn’t what the government will call this, the idea is to build dedicated bus and bicycle lanes which would then create the desired level of congestion for Lane Cove Tunnel. The plan will still go ahead in February next year.
In the meantime, the Tunnel has been under massive public scrutiny after the NSW government dropped the speed limit from 80km/hr to 40km/hr overnight, without sufficient warning.
The change in speed limits generated, between March 25 and May 30, 13,500 tickets or around $8 million. The NSW transport officials initially refused to refund all tickets.
However our friends at SpeedingFineConsultants pointed out (John Laws show) that the NSW government had not followed proper procedures and legislation for reducing speed limits and the operation of the speed cameras in the tunnel.
The NSW Government refunded all affected motorists the next day.