Friday, October 24, 2008

Ask Not About Sydney Tollways, They Toll For Thee

If I hear anyone in Singapore complain about ERP again I'll clock them upside their head, as they're living in bloody luxury!

This "system" in Sydney seems like a hodgepodge of separate companies running separate section of the tollways. I don't pretend to understand it.

All I know is the rental car girl said something, I nodded and I drove to town. I ended up near my hotel, found a carpark and went to sleep... Next morning I had to wake up at 4am (Singapore time), same thing for three days running, and I am on dopey-dopey medications and so I forgot that I had to do something about driving on a route that, when I lived in Sydney 10 years ago, was free. Even though technically it didn't exist back then.

It seems, now I look back to Sunday, that I had driven on two separate stretches of tollable motorway coming in; the Eastern Distributor and the Cross City Tunnel. Two separate companies, two ways to be tolled...

From the website:
"If you plan to travel on more than one fully electronic motorway, you may need to arrange a pass for each one."

Note the odd word there? PLAN. I had no PLAN. I just wanted to go to Sydney and sleep, I didn't PLAN it, I just got in the rental and drove...

That was Sunday, today is Friday. I realised yesterday as drove over the Coathanger that I had overlooked this. There were signs about eTags and E-Passes for some of the motorways as I drove along and so the memory of a responsibility overlooked filtered in slowly.

As I had stayed at a friend's place up in Waroongah last night, I couldn't do anything about it yesterday but now, back in my hotel, I just looked up the How To Pay number on the Internet ($69 per week) and called the "toll-free" number. The girl there gave me TWO numbers, one "toll-free" and one presumably tollable. On the first of the numbers, the "toll-free" one, another pleasant lady told me that my toll was not on her system yet. My car's registration was not registered as an infringing vehicle. Her system was for unpaid tolls which had tolled up an infringement 'notice'. As my alleged infringement was only 5 days old it wouldn't have been registered yet, that would take 10 days. I was in a rental car, I told her, and I'll be in Singapore by then (actually come to think of it, I'll be in Geelong).

Oh, she said, you were supposed to buy an eTag/Pass within 48 hours of using the system. (Ah, so that's what the girl at the rental counter had said! I'm just not registering anything I'm told these days.)

So I can't pay now? (I was in that hazy no-person's-land of not being able to pay the bill over the phone (in 48 hrs) and waiting for the notice (after 10 days). What sort of a system is this?)

Do I need to call the other motorway company, the one that runs the Cross City Tunnel? I asked.

No, I don't need to call the non-toll number, they work on the same (insert laugh-track here) "System."

That's OK, she told me, the toll will be tagged to the rental car company and she was sure they'd tell me all about it.

Friendly for tourists, I said.

Yes, she laughed, no, it isn't.

And the sextant tolled the bell.



Indiana said...

"You gotta listen Mr. E@L, can?", I predict a random pub moment in the future...

Disgruntled E@L sits down with a "fuck, some stupid company in Sydney that I have never heard of is trying to charge me $12.68" ~grin~

I wonder if rental companies here explain the ERP system to tourists?

expat@large said...

I calculated it be $9:07 actually. By the time the fine comes in from Hertz, it will $230, plus being kicked off their Gold Status and a blacklisting for future rentals.

savannah said...

can't you do anything about it when you return the car, sugar? xoxo

(it could be worse, i'm packing up my old house and moving to a new one, the MITM is overseas and won't be back until after the move AND my youngest kid turned 30!!! yesterday...)

expat@large said...

Somehow, things will sort themselves out - for me, despite the complaining, they always do. It's a mystery.

savannah said...

shakespeare in love

my current favorite: "You see - comedy. Love, and a bit with a dog. That's what they want."

...and someone to move the furniture!;)

Li Yi said...

Well, I can never understand how the system works either. It's a pain everytime we drive up to Sydney.

But you are right. Things always sort themselves out no matter how many idiots you have to deal with.

expat@large said...

Oops, not so pleasantly sorted - there will be a $33 administration fee from Hertz on top of the $9 toll...

I blame the meds. That reminds me: Now I have to ring the Melbourne equivalent after coming in on the Tulllamarine Freeway.

Unknown said...

Expat@large said "This "system" in Sydney seems like a hodgepodge of separate companies running separate section of the tollways."
How accurate! It is a hodgepodge of separate companies running separate sections of the tollways, with incompatible toll systems.

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