Benjamin Preiss

Published: July 19 2017 - 6:51PM

Victoria's toll road system is charging ute drivers up to almost double that of four-wheel-drives.

The RACV said many family cars with ute chassis were being slugged with the higher tolls because the system recognised their cars as "light commercial vehicles".

The motoring club said that many family cars with no commercial purpose were being charged more than larger cars even though some of them shared the same design.

In the greatest discrepancy, a normal car trip on EastLink costs $2.82 from Springvale Road to the Ringwood Bypass but light commercial vehicles are charged $4.51. However, other trips can differ by less than 40 cents. 

The RACV will use a senate inquiry in toll roads to push for twin-cab utes used for family and recreational purposes to be charged as regular cars. 

"RACV will not support a similar vehicle classification system being imposed on any future toll roads in Victoria," it said.

Light commercial vehicle classification included any two-axle rigid vehicle with a cab chassis construction between 1.5 and 4.5 tonnes in weight. However, this could include everyday family and recreational vehicles.

The additional charges for twin-cab utes were implemented recently despite being part of the original deeds since the roads opened to drivers.

The Senate inquiry is examining the operations of existing and proposed toll roads, including financial arrangements and accountability.

EastLink spokesman Doug Spencer-Roy said the tolling structure was fair and adhered to Victorian legislation.

"We want to charge as accurately as possible," he said.            

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said the government had no plans to change the classifications.

The RACV has also forecast that e-tags will soon be scrapped and replaced with GPS technology, which may include mobile phone applications.

The RACV has been pushing for a road pricing system in which drivers would be charged according to the weight of their vehicles, time, location and distance travelled.

In its submission Transurban said toll roads delivered billions of dollars in economic benefits each year, including enhanced productivity.

Transurban wants to build an alternative crossing to the West Gate Bridge which will be tolled. 

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