For whom the bridge tolls

Visitors to Sydney beware! If you think crossing Sydney Harbour Bridge is the same as crossing any other bridge in the world, it’s not!

An infrequent visitor to Sydney, I drove a hire car across the bridge (once free)  and while it would have been preferable to just pay the toll on the  spot, alas, that is simply not possible.

I also recall a time when it was free to use the bridge. Those were the days.

Eager to avoid any ongoing issues, I set about paying the toll immediately on my arrival at my hotel where, lucky for me, there was an internet  connection. Bear in mind, this is not big bucks we are talking about here. The hire car was going back the next day, one toll $2.50 is all that was  involved.

I was cornered as the bridge was the only access point to the city.

I began Googling, looking for some way to pay the toll and ended up with something called an Emu pass valid for 30 days at a cost of $1.50.

I don’t want 30 days, I want one 24-hour period or actually one five-minute period. However in the event that I couldn’t find one single other option,  it appeared I had no choice but to buy the pass.

This operation actually took the best part of half an hour as it was really tricky shopping around the site to make sure I had exhausted all options  before I entered my credit card numbers for an Emu pass.

An email arrives to say it’s done. Whew. So that was the end of that.

Not easy and I was cursing NSW Transport for making it so difficult to pay a simple toll and wasting so much of my holiday time.

Now, to add injury to insult, three months later, I receive a penalty notice in the post telling me that I now owe them $12.50. This is easily the most  troublesome bridge in the world – and very expensive now.

Again I waste my time investigating options. The website directs me to a point where I can lodge an objection. Oh no! It’s full of complicated paperwork that must be completed and then posted, in the snail mail.

I see at least another hour disappear so, full of righteous anger, I call the only number I can find. I wait and wait and wait for it to be answered.

Fifteen minutes, 20 minutes, my blood rising to boiling point. Finally I get through. Oh yes, our “technology failed and I will now charge $2.50 to your  credit card”.

“So that means it actually cost $4 to cross the bridge? The toll of $2.50 and the $1.50 for the pass I didn’t want.”
Let’s add this up, 30 minutes to sign up for something I don’t want, another 30 minutes to sort out the mistake and two credit card transactions for  small amounts – how can this be viable?

Stay with Brisbane folks. Story Bridge is free and there are some great things to see.