(Australian Associated Press)
Toll road giant Transurban is overhauling the fees it slugs motorists, amid reports it has been making mega profits from excessive charges.
Transurban operates roads in Victoria, NSW and Queensland and Fairfax reported on Tuesday the company hauled in $147 million nationally in 2016 by charging customers fees for pursuing unpaid tolls, image matching and replacing eTags.
But Transurban insists the charges were legitimate.
“Transurban does not make a profit from its fees,” group executive for Victoria and strategy, Wes Ballantine said.
“There are a range of misrepresented figures in the Fairfax article this morning. All fees and charges are disclosed on our website and are avoidable through fee-free options.”
From next week Transurban will start telling customers of changes to its fees system including an upgraded website, new travel time and pricing tools and a new app which will allow for on-the-spot payment, trip-by-trip.
The Victorian government says it is working to change the toll system under a new agreement for its controversial West Gate Tunnel project.
“What we’ve been focused on is delivering a better deal for motorists than the one the Kennett government signed up to many many years ago,” acting Premier James Merlino told reporters.
The state Labor government has negotiated changes to the way Transurban handles unpaid tolls and fines, including doubling the time the company has to contact people over missed tolls and hardship concessions.
However those changes are dependent on an extension of Transurban’s deed over the CityLink road passing parliament.
In NSW, the Liberal-Nationals government has moved to ease the pressure on regular toll road users by discounting vehicle registration.
Ssecrecy over Transurban’s cash flow needs to end, the Greens said.
“Today’s revelations demonstrate that Transurban is overwhelmingly driven by increasing profits rather than working in the interests of commuters,” federal transport spokeswoman Janet Rice said in a statement.
“What’s worse, with state governments increasingly prioritising toll roads over public transport, Transurban’s profits are going through the roof while people are locked into using these expensive toll roads because they have no other transport option.”