Melbourne has renewed calls for a CBD congestion tax, but now the plan is to include motorcycles and scooters.
Last week’s Melbourne future transport strategy suggested a system that would use number plate recognition for all vehicles.
No fee amounts have yet been suggested, but report author Marion Terrill says Melbourne should follow cities such as London, Stockholm and Singapore.
However, two of those cities have some exemptions for motorcycles and scooters.
Stockholm has no fees for motorcycles and scooters as London did initially.
However, since April 2019 the new London Ultra Low Emissions Zone charges £12.50 (about $A23) a day for motorcycles and scooters that do not meet Euro 3 emissions standards.
Singapore has CBD road-user charges for all vehicles and plans to ban pre-2003 motorcycles throughout the city in 10 years.
Melbourne Council first suggested a CBD congestion tax last year, but made no mention of motorcycles and scooters.
It cited a 2017 Grattan Institute report that said tax should be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne during peak hours within five years.
However, Melbourne Council cannot legislate the changes as is is a state matter and the State Government has previously rejected such calls.
The Victorian Motorcycle Council and Australian Motorcycle Council reject any moves for motorcycles and scooters to be included in any congestion tax.
“We are the solution to the congestion issue, not the problem,” says VMC media spokesman John Eacott.
“You’re quite right that council can’t change State legislation but they are driving a discussion which has, so far, been rejected by Victorian State Government.
“Any references to motorcycles may benefit from instead using the term PTWs (powered two-wheelers) should a broader audience become engaged.
“Experience has shown that the greener elements tend to change their tune when it’s pointed out that PTW includes scooters.”
The Motorcycle Riders Association of Victoria also says PTWs should be exempt because riders “contribute financially paying similar road fees and CTP premiums to car owners and motorcycles do less damage to infrastructure and the environment”.
John says the VMC is pleased the report notes that altering road design to include narrow lanes dedicated to small traffic such as micro and light cars and motorbikes would have a beneficial effect on congestion.
Calls for CBD congestion charges are not new. They have been around for years.
In March this year, Sydney University transport economist Professor David Hensher had a novel twist on the idea.
He said motorists should be able to choose to pay a 5c-per-kilometre congestion tax in return for lower rego.
Other cities have various fee systems not only to reduce traffic congestion but also air pollution:
- Milan’s Ecopass charges all vehicles entering a designated traffic restricted zone and bans old cars and bikes that do not meet set emissions standards;
- China and Brazil are considering congestion charges in various cities; and
- Oregon, USA, has trialled a voluntary pay-per-mile distance charge resulting in a 22% drop in traffic in peak hours and a 91% approval by participants.
Riders should be concerned because these taxes and bans could spread to other congested cities.
The Singapore ban on older motorcycles seems harsh but may be warranted as the city is choked by thousands of two-stroke scooters that have since ceased production.
But powered two-wheelers should be exempt because they not only free up traffic, they can also reduce pollution as stricter European emissions standards have made them much cleaner.
Also, the coming wave of electric models will make them even more attractive for easing CBD congestion and pollution woes.
Melbourne City Council once had an exemplary motorcycle plan.
Yet the city no longer has free tolls for motorcycles, widespread free footpath parking is slowly being eroded. and now riders might be hit with a congestion tax.