The Palaszczuk Government has supported a Parliamentary committee’s calls for toll operators to improve their customer service performance.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Parliamentary Inquiry into toll roads had attracted almost 200 submissions, with many of those focused on customer service issues and fees and charges.
“The Palaszczuk Government set up the Parliamentary Inquiry into tolling in Queensland to ensure motorists are receiving quality services from toll operators,” Mr Bailey said.
“The committee received a number of submissions that raised issues with a perceived lack of communication from toll operators and their customers, particularly around fees and charges, and the time people were given to pay.
“Since April 2016, the Palaszczuk Government has worked with Transurban Queensland to improve how it handles tolling enforcement and compliance, and I note the committee did acknowledge the customer service improvements Transurban has introduced since that time.”
The committee recommended the Minister consider establishing of a Queensland-based Tolling Customer Ombudsman that would be more accessible to local motorists.
It also recommended the Department of Transport and Main Roads and the Brisbane City Council continue to monitor Transurban’s fees and charges to ensure they remained reasonable.
Minister Bailey said the committee’s recommendations identified practical ways to make customer service more efficient.
“One of the suggestions was to enable sharing of customer contact data between the Transport Department and toll road operators, so that customers could be contacted sooner about any fees or charges they incurred,” Mr Bailey said.
“Any agreements of that nature would need to comply with privacy legislation, but it’s certainly something that could prevent situations where people accrue a series of toll charges but don’t find out until weeks or months later.
“We think future improvements in technology and customer identification will provide opportunities for Transurban to reduce its administrative fees and charges, and we will continue to work with them on that front.”
The committee also highlighted Transurban’s statement that it was not in a position to discount toll prices, noting in its report that Transurban Queensland had paid $9 billion for the tolling rights.
Mr Bailey said any move by the State Government to subsidise toll prices would be at the expense of other road projects across Queensland.
“The simple fact is that if we spend millions of dollars to make toll roads cheaper in south-east Queensland, it means less money for roads and transport in other parts of the state,” he said.
“Toll roads are a mechanism for governments to work with the private sector to bring forward infrastructure for motorists to ease congestion and give drivers more options.
“The tolls are necessary to pay for that fast-tracked infrastructure and, for drivers who don’t want to pay those tolls, there is still a free alternative.”
The Palaszczuk Government will now consider the Parliamentary Committee’s report in detail and provide a response to its recommendations.
Minister for Transport and Main Roads
The Honourable Mark Bailey