Any Alternative To NSW Government’s Free Rego For Toll Users Is Worth Floating

This morning I saw a link on Facebook to an article announcing that the NSW State Government would give drivers free car rego if they spent over $25 a week on tolls and unfortunately, it wasn’t from the Betoota Advocate.

Cars! Not even motorbikes. It’s fascinating stuff.

It appears that myself and thousands of other NSW residents are struggling to come to terms with just how illogical this scheme is – encouraging drivers in a city that has diabolical congestion issues.

I ride a motorcycle, and I still can’t believe how bad the traffic it is. An average morning commute from my house in Manly, to the office in Surry Hills, is 35 minutes in peak hour, and that’s with use of the bus lanes!

And where have they plucked $25 from? A student driving from the Hills District to UNSW would spend that every day! Essentially the state government is saying, if you live in a 50km radius of Sydney city, we’re giving you free rego.

This government is running our state into the ground.

Let’s forget about rent, affordable housing, land tax, public transport, the Light Rail project and lock out laws for a second and take a look at bicycles.

Australia was the first country to impose mandatory bike helmet laws in the 90s, and very few countries have followed suit. Recently they introduced harsher penalties for those not wearing them, not carrying ID and not having a shopping list of accessories on their bicycles, further discouraging people from riding. Then in a classic knee-jerk move, allowed three bike share companies to litter our city with horrible bikes no one rides, because they don’t want to (a) use a strangers helmet or (b) carry their own helmet around or (c) use a shit bike.

They introduced variable tolling on the Harbour Bridge and Harbour Tunnel in 2009 to encourage travel out of peak periods; now they’re backtracking and rewarding the very people they aimed to discourage (raise more revenue from) by giving them free rego. Why aren’t people who live in regional areas or who catch public transport and don’t use their car on toll roads, getting rewarded?

Here’s an easy suggestion, lower the public transport prices.

Christ, a handful of year five students brandishing fresh pen licenses could come up with a better plan this government.

Lately, I’ve been spending my hour a day sitting in traffic thinking about my own initiative to reduce congestion in this city. To get people out of cars and onto two wheels. I did think it was a little ludicrous at first, but now that this scheme has been announced, I’m confident that any alternative is worth considering.

Firstly, let’s abolish the need for Scooter licenses under, let’s say 150cc. Why it takes two three hour sessions (over two days!) to go and get a Scooter license is beyond me.

Twist the throttle, indicate, brake – congrats you’re now a Scooter rider.

Then let’s take the tens of thousands of people who are going to claim free rego, at a conservative $500 a year, and do the maths over three years. Call it 10,000 drivers. That’s $15 million. We then put a contract out to tender to supply the NSW government with $15 million dollars worth of scooters to manufacturers around the world. At the retail price, the government could acquire 6,122 50cc Piaggio Zips, 3,759 150cc Piaggio Flys or 2,347 150cc Vespa Sprints. Imagine how many they could have delivered at a wholesale cost.

Once delivered, residents in high congestion areas, like the Hills or Northern Beaches can apply to take delivery of a free scooter, with free rego, free tolls, and free parking. Maybe the government own them, and then sell them after the three year period, recouping probably half their investment to update the fleet while providing another hoard of people with second-hand scooters they can buy and ride now that getting a license is so much easier. Maybe the scooters are electric so we also do our bit for the environment.

gogoro Electric Scooter

Then through the use of very same technology that facilities tolling, we monitor usage of motorists who have taken delivery on free scooters and ensure that they are in fact using them to commute as they said they would, and not their cars.

Not only does a solution like this take thousands of cars off the road every day, thousands of people get a free scooter. Who doesn’t want a free scooter? I want a free scooter.

It’s so disappointing to see another thoughtless scheme from a government that seems set on driving this state further into the ground. Surely we must be one of the only countries in the world actually encouraging driving in our major cities. I would honestly prefer to pay my rego and have the traffic alleviated then to see this issue worsen.

To finish, I thought I’d leave you with a quick list of alternative suggestions to the government’s new scheme, outside of my Free Scooters Campaign. Perhaps one of these will inspire a change worth celebrating.

  1. Decrease public transport prices
  2. Decrease public transport prices
  3. Decrease public transport prices
  4. Sorry did I say decrease the prices of public transport?
  5. Decrease cost of public transport at peak times
  6. Give motorcycles and scooters free rego
  7. Give motorcycles and scooters free tolls
  8. Give NSW residents rebates on motorcycles and scooters
  9. Abolish the need for a specialist scooter license
  10. Give everyone who doesn’t own a car $500 worth of opal credit a year
  11. Give people who do own a car $500 worth of opal credit a year
  12. Give students and pensioners free public transport
  13. Drop mandatory helmet laws
  14. Drop all laws to discourage the riding of bicycles
  15. Build more bike paths
  16. Decrease cost of rego for everyone except toll users
  17. Give free rego to people who use their car less than x amount of days a month
  18. Drop stamp duty
  19. Spend the money on infrastructure
  20. Buy every resident in Sydney nice walking shoes

Feature Image: Getty

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James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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