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Roads Australia Insider - December 19, 2017


Heavy vehicle charging pilot scheme a welcome step towards true road funding reform

The Federal Government has announced a pilot national direct user-charging system for heavy vehicles as a potential replacement for the current Pay As You Go (PAYGO) system.

The voluntary pilot scheme and a complementary Business Case Program that aims to get trial programs up at a local level were announced by Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister, Paul Fletcher, at last Friday's Roads Australia Annual Lunch in Melbourne.

The announcement was immediately welcomed by RA President, David Stuart-Watt, as an important first step towards genuine funding reform across the broader road transport market.

“This is a much-needed investigation into how we can best recoup the true value of the service provided to industry and the public by our road network,” he said.

“If it (the pilot) is successful, we hope it will open the door to funding and charging reform across the broader road transport user market.”

Speaking at the RA lunch, Mr Fletcher said state and Federal governments would be working in close partnership to progress the national pilot scheme, as the current PAYGO system combined charges collected by the Australian Government (fuel-based road-user charge) and by state and territory governments (heavy vehicle registration fees).

Key points to note about the National Pilot are:

  • It will test the proposed end state for Heavy Vehicle Road Reform.
  • It will operate Australia-wide and be led by the Australian Government.
  • Participation will be voluntary and open to heavy vehicle operators from across Australia.
  • The first two stages will not involve any actual payments or require changes to legislation.
  • Participants will have opportunities to provide feedback on their experiences and will be involved in shaping national reform.

In addition to the National Pilot, the Government is also establishing a small, targeted and temporary program to support the development of business cases for location-specific heavy vehicle charging trial proposals.

Proposals developed under the Business Case Program will trial elements of Heavy Vehicle Road Reform at the local level, complementing the National Pilot.

Mr Stuart-Watt also praised the complementary Business Case Program as an innovative way to uncover untapped potential for further efficiency in the freight and logistics sector at a very local level.

He said the current program of work being done to inform National Heavy Vehicle Reform was a credit to state and federal governments and industry stakeholders.

“They are working together to find a better way to improve services for heavy vehicle road users,” he said.

“Ultimately, this work will deliver economy-wide benefits as efficiencies are passed down the chain.

“Alongside charging reform, it’s important that we remain focused on unlocking the most efficient routes for the national freight task.

“A better understanding of the opportunities to improve access will further assist heavy vehicle industry productivity.”

Development work on the national pilot and Business Case Program will take place in early 2018 and will include a workshop with industry peak bodies to discuss and refine the approach.

New research shines a light on how Melbourne moves, now and in the future

Melbourne is likely to remain a car dominated city, with driving still accounting for more than 70 per cent of trips by 2030. That’s one of the key research findings in a new report on travel demand and movement patterns in Melbourne, released last week by Infrastructure Victoria.

The latest research uses a new approach to modelling - the Melbourne Activity Based Model - to better understand how Melbourne’s roads might be used in 2030, and provide a comparison to 2015.

The model predicts that in 2030:

  • there will be an extra 3.5 million trips everyday across Melbourne’s transport network,
  • train, tram and bus trips will grow by 75 per cent, and
  • Melbourne is likely to remain a car dominated city, with driving still accounting for more than 70 per cent of trips.

Infrastructure Victoria has also surveyed drivers who regularly travel during peak times to explore people’s travel behaviour and attitudes - finding that most people who drive in peak prefer a predictable journey time that takes longer, than an unpredictable journey time that is usually quicker.

It also found that around 1 in 4 drivers could change the time they travelled, and around 1 in 3 could change the way they travelled. This could potentially take significant pressure off the roads, now and in the future.

Infrastructure Victoria says the development of the Melbourne Activity Based Model is a significant first for Australia. Unlike traditional transport modelling that focuses on trips and modes within the transport network, this new model is people focussed and tests the response of individuals to change.

Infrastructure Victoria says the model is in early stages of development, but it wanted to share some baseline results and demonstrate some of its potential capabilities.

The modelling and community survey results will be used to inform the next phase of Infrastructure Victoria’s research program.

Click here to get the report.

Grants available for Vic trials of autonomous vehicles

 Expressions of interest close tomorrow (December 20) for VicRoads' Connected and Automated Vehicle Trial Grants Program.

With up to $9 million in funding available for participants, the program provides opportunities to work in partnership with industry to trial connected and automated vehicle solutions that lead to road safety benefits.

As part of the Towards Zero Road Safety Action Plan 2016-2020, VicRooads has identified that a key pathway to Victoria’s long-term vision of zero deaths on our roads is through the introduction of connected and automated vehicles.

The purpose of the grant program is to explore new and emerging connected and automated vehicle technologies. These are to:

  • trial Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) technologies that will inform and support Victorias readiness for connected and automated vehicles in order to optimise safety benefits leading to reduced deaths and serious crashes;
  • evaluate how CAVs improve road safety trauma outcomes to inform future investment and planning (infrastructure, roads, communications and technology requirements);
  • generate knowledge that will inform VicRoads and Transport Accident Commission (TAC) future planning for physical and digital infrastructure, roads design and CAV technology requirements that reduce road trauma; and
  • spur early deployment of CAVs that will reduce road trauma by providing a testing environment for on-road development of CAVs.

Enabling trials of automated vehicles will enhance the development of these potentially life-saving technologies. 

Legislation is currently before Parliament that will facilitate trials of more highly automated vehicles by introducing a permit scheme.

This new permit scheme is an Australian first developed by VicRoads, and proposes an amendment the Road Safety Act 1986 to support trials of automated vehicles.

“We have worked in close partnership with Government and industry to develop this Australian-first legislation to trial automated vehicles on Victorian roads.” says VicRoads Director Road User and Vehicle Access, Robyn Seymour.

Under the scheme, the permit holders are considered drivers and responsible for the vehicles actions. 

For more information, go to the VicRoads Tenders web page.  

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