Sydney leads rise in car ownership costs

The cost of public and private transport has risen in most Australian capital cities, with the Harbour City again being the most expensive in which to get around.

Sydney traffic jam on freeway

THE cost of running a car continues to rise in most Australian capital cities, with Sydney again the most expensive, according to the Automotive Association of Australia’s latest transport affordability index.

The Index  is based on the incomes and transport costs of a hypothetical household in each capital city, consisting of a couple with children and two cars. It assumes that one family member drives to work, while the other catches public transport.

Nationally, transport costs as a percentage of income also increased slightly over the September quarter to 13.4 per cent (up from 13.3 per cent). In comparison, household expenses relating to telecommunications, electricity and water consume one to three per cent of household budgets.

Sydney was again the most expensive city in which to run a car, with the average family paying around $21,653 compared with the national average of $16,894 (up from $21,389.78 as measured in the previous quarter) while the annual cost of land transport is lowest in Hobart at $14,197 (up from $14,115.72 in the previous quarter).

A rise in Sydney public transport fares, registration and compulsory third party insurance contributed to annual household cost increases of around $260.

Melbourne was the only capital city to experience a fall in average annual transport costs since the second quarter of 2016, down from $18,136.02 to $18,056.11, and mainly due to public transport fees becoming standard across the network.

Weekly car/transport costs of typical two-car households were $416 in Sydney, ahead of Brisbane ($377) and Melbourne ($347), Perth ($308) and Canberra ($302). 

Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin all dipped under the $300 mark, costing $287, $273 and $288 a week respectively. In these cities, public transport, driver’s licences and vehicle registration were all relatively less expensive.

Car loans continue to make up the biggest share of a household’s transport costs nationally; about $120 a week.

Other major costs, including tolls in cities that have them, fuel, public transport, insurance and registration, varied from city to city.

In Sydney, tolls were the second biggest charge for people living in outer suburbs, costing $78.20 a month, compared with $46.40 in Melbourne and $49.30 in Brisbane.

Brisbane is the most expensive city in which to travel on public transport, with an average weekly cost of $65.43 compared with Sydney ($59.04), Melbourne ($39.00), Perth ($55.30), Adelaide ($35.40), Canberra ($29.80), Hobart ($25.60) and Darwin ($20.00).

While Hobart is the cheapest place to own a car and get around, it had the highest average weekly fuel bill of $61.86, compared with Canberra ($59.88), Sydney ($59.04) and all the other capitals, hovered around $57.


  •          Car Loan: $120.53
  •          Rego and licencing: $31.68
  •          Comprehensive insurance: $22.37
  •          Car servicing and tyres: $27.08
  •          Fuel: $58.32
  •          Public transport: $41.20
  •          Toll roads (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane): $57.97
  •          Roadside assistance: $1.96


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