Wagga Wagga is the most affordable country area in Australia, costing $261 a week and 10% of incomes. Sydney households spend nearly two thirds more on transport than those in Wagga Wagga.
Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia for getting around, mainly because of toll roads. In the September 2019 quarter, the average Sydney household spent $424 a week on transport. Considering residents spend 14% of their income on transport, Sydney is the fourth most expensive city. Hobart was the least affordable.
The affordability index
The AAA Transport Affordability Index generates these figures each quarter. It is based on a representative 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. Depreciation and parking are not included.
Over time, the AAA index offers a useful picture of what kinds of travel expenses are increasing and which ones are falling or fluctuating.
How travel expenses compare
Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are still the most expensive cities for transport. However, Hobart is the least affordable city, followed by Brisbane and Melbourne.
The Toll Relief Scheme gave free registration to some Sydney households who use toll roads. This pushed the costs of licensing, CTP and registration lower than for the typical Wagga Wagga household. However, Sydney saw the only increase in car loan payments, compared to the rest of Australia.
Tolls keep rising
Only Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have toll roads, but the cost of these goes up every quarter. The Index assumes one member of the family uses toll roads only 2 days per week because there are alternatives.
The AAA index says the average Sydney household pays $84 a week in tolls, or a fifth of their total travel cost. This equates to $8 each way per day and underestimates the real costs for people who drive every day. Without tolls, Sydneysiders would pay only $340 per week for transport, somewhere between Canberra (4th) and Perth (5th).
Getting around Wagga Wagga
Residents of Wagga Wagga have the lowest transport costs of all the regions studied, both in total and as a share of income. In the September 2019 quarter:
- Transport cost $261 per week
- Registration, CTP and licensing fell $69 and fuel spending fell by $18 in the year
- Wagga Wagga had the cheapest fuel of all regions, cheaper than Sydney.
Remember, CTP is always cheaper for rural vehicle owners than for metro vehicle owners.