Are you there Sydney? (Aus)

Road User Charging

An expat on a visit home has decided that ‘Sydney has lost the plot’ after a night visiting friends costs AUS$284 in fines and fees.

Josh Gaudry, now based in New York, racked up seven tolls, a parking meter fee and, following a brush with one of “Sydney’s most confusing parking signs”, a $248 fine when trying to park for a night out with friends.

Gaudry wrote: “Staying at my parents’ place in the west of Sydney, I ventured into Pyrmont two days before Christmas eager to get out of the house and catch up with old friends whom I hadn’t seen for two years. Driving was the only option and road tolls were a necessary evil I couldn’t dodge. The 40-minute drive from Kellyville racked up four tolls; M7, M2, Lane Cove Tunnel and Harbour Bridge. Each ‘bleep’ on the roam tag was like a tiny kidney punch to my wallet. Upon arriving in Pyrmont, I aimlessly circled the streets for 30 minutes trying to find a parking space. It felt like I was in a Hunger Games race for car space sanctuary. Eventually I found a spot. Or was it? Rubbing my eyes to ensure it wasn’t a mirage, I was confronted by four ambiguous, conflicting parking signs all piled on top of each other to create one monstrous ‘super sign’.

“I checked it again and again. Not having the mathematical problem-solving capability of Alan Turing, I deduced it was OK to park there. My confidence was validated when I purchased a ticket and displayed it on the dashboard.

“While sipping on my overpriced pint, old friendships were resumed with some deep debate about the order in which one should watch the Star Wars movies if you hadn’t seen any before. I left the conversation to go and pay for more parking. I found an infringement ticket flapping under the windscreen wiper like a fish taking its final breaths. $248 for “disobeying a no stopping sign”. $248!! My first response was one of indignation. Does the punishment fit the crime? Further to my irritation, the charge of “disobeying” surely infers a level of intent to commit that crime. Surely paying and displaying the one-hour $2.70 ticket was evidence I was not willingly committing any crime at all.

“So, screw you Sydney and your overbearing nanny state. I would rather be back in the most heavily policed city in the world of New York. No meat-head bouncers telling me I can’t get in because they don’t like my shoes, no lock out zones at midnight, no food venue shutdowns because of some daft law to avoid loitering, no aimless circling for a carpark oasis that doesn’t exist, no excessive tolls to drive under a bloody tunnel. And certainly no mid-strength beer for $10.”

Sydney Morning Herald 31 January