AROUND 500 MORE cars each hour are expected to travel on Sydney's M4 motorway when the current tolls are removed on February 15. By 2011, that number will have risen to an additional 2000 cars per hour over current trip numbers.
According to NSW Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat, average travel time during the morning peak period will increase by 27 percent - about 6.5 minutes.
For many motorists, the M4 is the main link between Penrith and the Sydney CBD.
"More motorists will want to use the M4 than can fit on it," Mr Achterstraat said.
"There"ll be more cars, more congestion and it will take more time for people to get to work."
Mr Achterstraat said that of the expected increase, his office's audit showed that around 1500 will be from natural growth over the next 18 months, and an additional 500 as a direct result of the toll's removal.
According to the audit, RTA statistics show that the the M4 is near capacity during peak periods with the toll in place, leaving little room for extra vehicles.
To soften the impact of the toll removal, the RTA plans to make changes to lane configurations and key intersections, also adding additional capacity on some off-ramps.
Since the tollroad was opened in 1992, over $970 million has been paid by motorists using the M4.