Productivity concerns over NSW congestion proposal

NSW Government proposal to ban truck container movements during peak periods risks hindering operators.

The Iemma Government’s proposal to ban truck container movements during peak periods risks hindering trucking operators and port productivity, New South Wales’ industry group warns.

Premier Morris Iemma is flagging the option of restricting container movements on motorways by offering trucking operators a price incentive to arrive at Port Botany during off-peak times.

The move is designed to reduce Sydney’s traffic congestion woes, but the Australian Trucking Association’s NSW (ATA NSW) branch says more details are needed to ensure operators are not adversely affected.

Mike Moylan, who is the container section chairman of the group, wants an explanation as to when the Government expects containers to be moved, fearing the decision may stretch operators and the port beyond capacity.

"You've got to move them at some time. Whether it’s day or night, everyone's got finite resources," Moylan says.

"You can't double the number of trucks at night and not do anything in the day.

"I don't think the port can operate by doing none of the work during the day and everything at night."

While Jill Lewis from the ATA NSW says the decision is "still in the conceptual stage", the Government intends to raise the issue with the public at its Transport Mobility Forum in September.

Moylan, who is also the general manager of ports carrier Johnstons Transport, says trucks are equally affected by congestion as other vehicles.

However, he says any idea with the potential to reduce gridlock needs to be investigated.

The crux of Iemma’s proposal is based on reducing traffic volumes on the M5 motorway, which Lewis says carries 118,000 vehicles a day between southwest Sydney via Port Botany and the airport.

The ATA NSW also says the Government is close to reaching a decision on the outcome of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal's (IPART) recommendation for a two-tier slot booking system at Port Botany.

IPART’s report calls for stevedores to introduce firm slots and interruptible slots. Under the firm slots measure, trucking operators will vie for a guaranteed entry time and exit while the latter method will continue the first come first served system.

The ATA NSW is opposed to an auction system at the port, arguing it will be too complex to introduce and will do little to increase productivity.

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