Darebin wants guarantees before signing up to B-triples

Council says funding for roads and community information campaign must come before B-triple access is granted

By Brad Gardner | October 5, 2011

A Victorian council has backed the idea of greater road access for B-triples, but is adamant extra funding for roads and a community information campaign must come first.

Darebin City Council says the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) recommendation for B-triples to be given access to the type 1 road train network as a first step toward opening up the inter-capital routes to the vehicles "is most welcome".

The council’s senior transport and traffic engineer, Wal Cichocki, says Darebin is aware of the benefits of higher productivity vehicles and the NTC’s discussion paper is a positive step toward increasing efficiency.

"One interstate national road network that is B-triple compliant and provides essential access to major freight processing centres is strongly supported," he says.

"However, City of Darebin has concerns about the potential impact of freight on residential amenity and is unlikely to allow B-triples to use our local roads without a comprehensive assessment that demonstrates a positive outcome."

Cichocki says the assessment should be a detailed analysis identifying funding for road strengthening, modifications and improvements.

"Implementation of any freight programs in local areas would ideally be preceded by adequate community information campaigns," he says.

Cichocki says larger trucks are unpopular in the community and that the council would welcome assistance in promoting awareness of B-triples, other higher productivity vehicles and general freight issues.

"The role of community perceptions and consultation should be underestimated," he says.

Cichocki believes a B-triple network should be a part of performance based standards (PBS) and has hinted at a willingness to support the use of the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) to make sure the vehicles stick to designated routes.

He says vehicle monitoring systems are seen as vital in "maximising benefits to the community, the national economy and road safety".

An umbrella group representing IAP providers, the Australian Regulator Telematics Industry (ARTI), claims B-triples must be monitored because drivers cannot be trusted to abide by road access conditions. The group also accused B-double drivers of habitually travelling off route.

The NTC opposes using IAP for B-triples because there is no evidence showing the rigs are a compliance risk.

The Australian Trucking Association supports the recommendation and noted in its response to the NTC’s proposal that type 1 road trains are not required to fit IAP devices.

"There is simply no evidence that drivers of B-triples, or B-doubles and semi-trailers at higher mass limits, are any more inclined to travel off-route than drivers of type 1 road trains," the ATA says.

It also recommended a government-funded advertising campaign to educate communities on B-triples and to combat any negative media reports that might stem from a decision to grant the 35-metre units access to more roads.

"The media play a huge part in the perception of trucks. Negative reporting by media outlets generates fear in the community, who for the most part would not be able to identify a B-triple as being different to a B-double if they passed it on a freeway," the ATA says.

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