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The peak body for health and community services in NSW, NCOSS has cautiously welcomed the Grattan Institute’s report on congestion charging.

NCOSS CEO, Joanna Quilty said while she disagrees with the report’s claims congestion charging fears are “overblown”, if designed with low-income people in mind congestion charging could help address a range of social issues.

“Transport disadvantage is real and is experienced by people on low incomes, who often live in the outer suburbs or regional areas,” Ms Quilty said.

“While costs such as rents might be cheaper in these areas, transport options are often limited. If a congestion charge can be designed with people who are already disadvantaged by low incomes and relative isolation in mind, we can make the system fairer.

“For people on low incomes every dollar counts. We know people limit their travel in cars or on public transport to help make ends meet, but this also limits access to jobs, education, support services and social engagement.

“We need bold thinking to address transport disadvantage in NSW and the Grattan Institute has put forward a worthy blueprint.”

Ms Quilty said congestion charging in Sydney’s CBD could be used to improve services for those that need it most.

“We have seen when congestion charging has been designed overseas with a focus on social and economic equity, the results can lead to a fairer system for those struggling,” Ms Quilty said.

“If designed properly a congestion charge in the CBD could be used to help address transport disadvantage and improve wellbeing in outer suburban and regional areas.

“It could also free up the state budget to fund other important infrastructure projects with economic benefits such as social and affordable housing.

“We can’t build our way out of congestion and keep prioritising road and rail at the expense of social infrastructure, which enables people on lower incomes to access economic and social opportunities.

“Any progress towards a congestion charge must keep people experiencing disadvantage front of mind.”

To find out more about NCOSS, visit: www.ncoss.org.au

Media contact: Nick Trainor 0407 078 138

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