The minibus Mat Mason drives for work each day is longer, taller and heavier than the Volkswagen Amarok he uses for everyday purposes.
Yet any time Mat uses either of Victoria’s two toll roads, CityLink and EastLink, he’s slugged higher tolls in his Amarok than he is in the minibus.
Mat is one of a rapidly growing number of Victorians who drive vehicles with cab chassis, such as the Amarok, as a day-to-day family car.
“The Amarok is hugely popular as a family commute. It drives like a sedan, it’s extremely comfortable and it’s made to be like a normal everyday vehicle,” he says.
While tolls for his minibus on CityLink are capped at $9.07 per trip with an e-tag, Mat can pay up to $14.51 per trip in his Amarok.
Why the discrepancy?
The discrepancy occurs because toll-road providers recognise any two-axle rigid vehicle with a cab-chassis construction, between 1.5 and 4.5 tonnes in weight, as a light commercial vehicle instead of a car, regardless of whether the vehicle is used for commercial or private purposes.
Light commercial vehicles can be tolled up to $3.67 more than cars per trip on EastLink.
RACV’s roads and traffic manager Dave Jones says that before 2015, the cheaper car toll was applied in many circumstances where cab-chassis vehicles were used, because the toll-road companies could not always tell what type of chassis a particular model of vehicle has. Since then, toll-road providers have charged eligible cab-chassis vehicles the higher toll, as their contract with the government entitles them to.
“Now members with some utes, SUVs and four-wheel drives have been affected, no matter whether they use them for work, a hobby, a family taxi, towing a horse float or caravan, or four-wheel-drive touring,” says Dave.
Other four-wheel drives, such as the Toyota LandCruiser, pay the lower car toll.