Transport expenses far outrun CPI

In 2023, the average Australian household had to find an extra 13% for transport expenses. This was more than triple the 4.1% CPI. They spent more on new vehicles, interest rates on car loans, and insurance premiums. Sydney was the most expensive city and Launceston was the least affordable place for transport.

How transport expenses compare

Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane continue to be the priciest cities for getting around. Sydney has the highest travel costs. In the December 2023 quarter, the average Sydney household spent $537 a week on transport. As residents spend 16.6% of their income on transport expenses, Sydney is the fourth most affordable city. Hobart was the least affordable city.

Weekly cost  Rank % of income Affordability
Sydney $537 1 16.6%
Canberra $452 4 14.8% Most affordable
Hobart $409 8 19.3% Least affordable
Alice Springs $425 1 18.2%
Launceston $386 4 20.1% Least affordable
Wagga Wagga $361 8 12.3% Most affordable

Motorists in Wagga Wagga have the most affordable transport expenses in a country area, costing them $361 a week (12.3% of incomes). While Alice Springs is the most expensive country area, Launceston is the most unaffordable place in Australia at 20.1% of income.

Tolls keep rising

Only Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have toll roads. Most tolls go up every quarter and some once a year.

The index assumes toll road use only 2 days per week because there are alternatives. It says the average Sydney household pays $84 a week ($16 a day) in tolls, or 15.7% of their total travel cost. This understates the real costs for people who pay tolls every day. Without tolls, Sydneysiders would pay only $453 per week for transport, similar to Canberra (4th).

The new $60 per week toll cap started 1 January 2024 so won’t be included until next quarter. Eligible motorists can still claim the toll relief rebate.

CTP and licensing

Registration, CTP and licensing costs are a small part of transport expenses. They have gone up this year in Sydney, Hobart and Launceston only. Sydney motorists pay $25, compared to $24 a week in Hobart and Launceston and $42 in pricey Canberra.

Remember, CTP in NSW is always cheaper for country vehicle owners than for metro vehicle owners.

About the affordability index

The quarterly AAA Transport Affordability Index is based on an average family household that owns two cars and uses public transport. Costs include car loan payments, registration and insurance, fuel, servicing, roadside assistance, tolls and public transport. Not included are depreciation and parking. Over time, the index demonstrates which transport expenses are increasing, dropping or fluctuating, by how much, and where in Australia.