Industry calls for shadow toll

The transport industry has argued government should swiftly implement ‘shadow toll’, a funding scheme that allows a private contractor to recover costs from government based on road usage.

The concept has been proposed by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), as it put forward a $3.2 billion road infrastructure initiative, Outer Melbourne Connect.

The initiative details new road, rail and public transport projects, including 85 arterial road projects across outer Melbourne, suburbs needing new or expanded bus services, and level crossings requiring grade separation.

RACV public policy general manager Brian Negus said the State Government should first seek federal funding for the appropriate road and public transport projects before delivering the remainder of the backlog with an ongoing program of works through the private sector.

“These works could be built within about five years and paid for via ‘shadow tolls’, where a private contractor constructs road then recoups costs from government during a 20-30 year period based on vehicle usage of roads,” Mr Negus said.

“Let me make this crystal clear: a shadow toll is not an extra tax, in fact there would be no additional charge to motorists using these new roads.”

The plan is being backed by a transport collaboration, which comprises industry peak bodies including the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), Yarra Trams, Victorian Taxi Association and Victorian Motorcyclists Union.

VTA chief executive Philip Lovel said the State Government should waste no time embracing the ‘shadow toll’ funding concept.

“If the Government acts proactively, we could potentially complete 30 years worth of much needed infrastructure in as little as five years, providing a boost to road safety, the economy, employment market and productivity.

“We simply cannot afford another 20 years of drip feeding only a handful of improvements each year,” Mr Lovel said.

He said the collaboration now called on the State Government to support the plan and ensure the projects were delivered under the imminent Integrated Transport report.

He said the proposal would help the State and Federal governments achieve their goals to boost the economy and jobs via infrastructure spending.

Connect is an ideal vehicle to achieve this outcome; outer Melbournians are increasingly choosing to work closer to home, and many industries have relocated to the middle and outer suburbs to benefit from the ready land supply and growing workforce,” he said.

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