Electric vehicle drivers will be offered shortcuts through traffic for another year in Australia after NSW extended a “perk” to encourage adoption of the technology.
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean has announced electric vehicles would be allowed in transit lanes throughout the state until October 2023 regardless of the numbers of passengers they carried.
The news makes NSW one of two jurisdictions to give electric cars ongoing access to the restricted lanes in a move proponents called a “short-term benefit” to the technology.
Mr Kean announced the year-long extension to its transit lane policy in addition to the state government’s $633 million EV Strategy designed to encourage electric vehicle ownership.
“Through these initiatives, we have seen an 84 per cent increase in EVs in NSW since last year – the fastest growth in Australia – and we are confident this trend will continue,” he said on Tuesday.
NSW Metropolitan Roads Minister Natalie Ward said the new rules would let EV drivers “cut travel times”, giving motorists more reasons to invest in a battery-powered vehicle.
“EVs are an investment in our future, not only in the massive reduction in emissions, but also in savings on fuel and ongoing costs for drivers,” Ms Ward said.
Electric vehicles are also allowed in transit lanes in the ACT until 2023.
This addition, along with green loans and discounts, saw the territory record the highest share of electric vehicle sales in Australia this year, at 9.5 per cent, followed by NSW with 3.7 per cent.
Electric Vehicle Council policy head Jake Whitehead said allowing the vehicles to travel in transit lanes had been successfully trialled in Norway.
In the UK, electric vehicles could also be driven in bus lanes.
But Mr Whitehead said the benefit would only be a temporary measure in Australia.
“It can’t last forever. We would like to be in a future where all vehicles are electric and you can’t see them all in transit lanes,” he said.
“In the short term, over the next one to three years, it is another perk that might convince people to make the switch.”
Mr Whitehead said regular commuters and tradespeople who regularly travelled on their own could benefit most from the schemes.
Other incentives to buy electric vehicles in Australia include one-off rebates and stamp duty and registration discounts offered by states and territories, and tax cuts proposed by the federal government.
(Australian Associated Press)