If you live in Victoria and own a car, something well worth having is a toll road account. Many motorists who use Melbourne’s CityLink and EastLink tollways on an irregular basis buy exorbitantly priced one-time trip passes, deciding against setting up an account because they think it costs too much, when in reality there is an option that costs you nothing to setup and maintain.
The first toll road in Melbourne was CityLink, which went live with their fully electronic system in 2000. Initially the only company in the game was CityLink operator Transurban with their e-TAG system, and this is where most people in Victoria had their first experiences of toll road accounts: hefty account keeping fees, even if you hardly drove on the toll road.
Thankfully competition was on the way, with the Australian Transport Council having set a standard for electronic tolling in the late 1990s, meaning that tags issued any any company in Australia would work on any other road. At first few took advantage of this, as it would have required Victorian motorists to deal with a company they had never heard of located in Sydney or Brisbane.
The big change hit in 2008 when Melbourne’s second tollway opened – EastLink. As well as running their own tollroad, operator ConnectEast also aggressively marketed their toll accounts to anyone in Victoria, boasting that their ‘Breeze’ windscreen tag was a third smaller than the clunky device issued by Transurban, but the real clincher was the lower account keeping costs.
So the cheap account I mentioned? It is a ‘Breeze Pre-Paid Tag Account’ from ConnectEast. To sum up the deal…
- You pay $40 to set up an account,
- The entire $40 gets put onto the account as toll credit,
- If you don’t travel for years the money will just sit there without charge,
- You can add however many cars as you like to the account,
- You can request an (almost) infinite number of tags to place in your cars,
- The tag works on both CityLink and EastLink without any extra fees,
- You can also drive on bridges, tunnels and tollways interstate and you don’t get charged a ‘roaming fee’ like some other companies do.
The only downside to the Breeze Pre-Paid Tag Account is the $30 minimum topup amount, and the minimum balance requirement – currently $12.18. I’m guessing the interest earned on the pool of money sitting in a few hundred thousand toll accounts is how ConnectEast make their money.
I’ve currently got four vehicles included on my Breeze account: my own car, plus those belonging to all my family members, which has saved my Dad a number of times when he gets lost in Melbourne and ends up on CityLink by mistake!
- Breeze Pre-Paid Tag Account at the EastLink website
- Transurban e-TAG account options (I told you they rip you off – now it’s tag fees!)
- Breeze or Citylink… which tag is best? (over at the Whirlpool forums everyone agrees)
- When you add a new vehicle to your toll account, you are automatically backdated for toll charges incurred up to 72 hour before. I discovered this after driving my new car down CityLink without having added it to my account.
- If you drive a ute or cab chassis, you might save money on tolls by using a New South Wales RTA tag: they classify you as a car, not a more expensive light commercial vehicle.
- The first modern toll road in Victoria was actually the West Gate Bridge, which had toll booths at the city end from opening in 1978 until 1985, when it was decided to make the bridge free to all. But that is a story for another day.