NSW taxi council pushes e-tags as Sydney airport toll proceeds

New South Wales taxis now have more reason to speed up the installation of e-tags after the NSW Taxi Council agreed with the government's decision to impose a AU$2 Sydney airport ground transport toll.The NSW government has agreed to the council's request of passing on the toll to the passengers.

New South Wales taxis now have more reason to speed up the installation of e-tags after the NSW Taxi Council agreed with the government's decision to impose a AU$2 Sydney airport ground transport toll.

The NSW government has agreed to the council's request of passing on the toll to the passengers. However, NSW Taxi Council spokesperson Tracy Cain said the Sydney airport has warned them that taxis without e-tags will not be able to enter the Sydney international airport from early next year.

Initially, the toll will be collected manually for the first couple of months. However, Cain said the plan is to make the international airport an "e-tags only" area.

"We've been pushing [the e-tag] fairly strongly particularly this year. We've worked with one company so drivers can pay their accounts by cash. We've also encouraged owners to get the e-tags installed and all networks have agreed to change their by-laws to include e-tag requirements in taxis," Cain said.

An e-tag is a small wireless device installed on the taxi's windscreen. Each e-tag has a unique number stored in its electronic memory that is detected by a scanner mounted on a gantry above the roadway. The tolling computer deducts the toll for that toll zone from the driver's toll account.

"Over the past 18 months, the taxi council has undertaken tough negotiations with Sydney Airport insisting that any toll would be applied on all ground transport providers, that it would be in exchange for additional facilities for taxi drivers, and that like other tolls it would be passed onto passengers. This is the last of those conditions to be met," said NSW Taxi Council chief executive officer, Howard Harrison.

The council recently announced that the new by-laws require an e-tag device be fitted on every taxi and that a driver must not drive a taxi without access to an e-tag. Electronic tolling allows drivers to use roads without slowing or stopping to pay tolls and helps to maintain a steady flow of traffic on an expressway.

"We thank the NSW government for listening to the taxi industry's request and for allowing this new toll to be passed to passengers. Whilst we do not agree with the concept of a ground transport toll, we recognise that every major airport in Australia now levies one, and in the case of Sydney the taxi industry has negotiated additional driver facilities in exchange for the charge," Harrison said.

"We hope that passengers understand that this charge is not an industry or government charge, but one levied by private enterprise," he added.

The council previously threatened to boycott the Sydney airport if the demands were not met. More than half of the 4800 Sydney cabs are now fitted with e-tags. The council is hoping that the roll out of the e-tags will be completed before Christmas period as the harbour tunnel and cross-city tunnel become "e-tags only" roads.