WA releases new heavy vehicle charging regime


First reform in 12 years proposes more control to Commissioner of Main Roads

WA releases new heavy vehicle charging regime
Dean Nalder promises consultation with industry.

 

The Western Australian government has used main roads law reform to start the Perth Freight Link (PFL) heavy vehicle charging scheme process and to widen its scope.

Heavy vehicles are the only users that will be subject to PFL tolls under the Main Roads Amendment Bill 2015.

"While the intention is for the heavy vehicle charging scheme to be applicable initially only in relation to the Perth Freight Link, the provision allows for other roads to be included under the roads that may be prescribed in the regulations," the Bill’s explanatory memorandum states.

Of the state’s $650 million spend on the new infrastructure, state transport minister Dean Nalder says heavy vehicle owners using it will provide $374.5 million.

"I assure members that there will be extensive consultation and discussion with the community and the industry on the detail of the proposed heavy vehicle charge," Nalder tells state parliament in introducing the Bill.

"The heavy vehicle charge is about sharing the benefits on a win-win basis with the transport industry, contributing to an even more effective road freight network."

Regulations on how the scheme is actually planned to are yet to be drafted.

The explanatory memorandum says fees will relate to "prescribed routes" though these are not defined but the memorandum makes plain the link between savings for the trucking industry and fees for its use.

"Users of the future Perth Freight Link network and most importantly heavy vehicle operators, will benefit with the project expected to considerably reduce travel times," it states.

"The implementation of a direct charging scheme ensures the efficient provision and use of prescribed roads by heavy vehicles.

"These fees or charges will be the means by which a significant proportion of the State Government’s contribution to the Perth Freight Link construction costs will be recouped from the private sector (i.e. the road transport industry).

"Those heavy vehicle charges and the prescribed roads to which they will apply, will be set out in regulations which will be in place once the road network is complete."

Regulations would be made to specify one or more prohibited road or roads in relation to any prescribed road and make it an offence for drivers to take such routes "without lawful excuse".

"For each part of the network of roads that comprise the Perth Freight Link, there could be one or several other road/s which are an alternative route that heavy vehicle operators could use," the memorandum states.

"In order for the heavy vehicle charging scheme to be effective it is important to provide a disincentive, in the form of a statutory penalty, for driving on other alternative roads rather than the prescribed roads with the view to evade paying the relevant prescribed charge."

The reform aims to modernise the Main Roads Act, which has been unchanged for 12 years.

It will strengthen Commissioner of Main Roads powers, particularly in relation to safety and allow the office to "enter into innovative business arrangements, such as the creation of private entities, to enable the Main Roads to operate more commercially", Nalder says.

This might include dealing with a company involved in toll collection and will include more powers over infrastructure provision.

The trip-line for ministerial consent on projects will rise from $500,000 to $1-5 million.

There will be greater powers over local government after consultation "to mitigate the effects of works on local roads to minimise traffic congestion.

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