Intelligent Transport Systems Australia welcomes recent comments from the ACCC and the Productivity Commission.
A group advocating the use of vehicle telematics has backed proposals from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Productivity Commission aimed at reforming the road charging system.
Intelligent Transport Systems Australia (ITS) says it welcomes the involvement of both agencies in the debate on how motorists should be charged for using the network.
The Productivity Commission’s recent inquiry into public infrastructure recommended the Federal Government encourage the states and territories to launch trials using in-vehicle telematics devices that charge light vehicles based on distance and location.
Meanwhile, the ACCC says congestion pricing should be discussed as part of any debate on further economic reform.
“Traditional approaches of registration fees and fuel excise have worked to a point, but we now have the technology to support a fairer, more sophisticated approach that will deliver community safety and efficiency benefits,” ITS Australia CEO Susan Harris says.
She says technology is capable of ensuring road charges are more closely matched to actual usage.
ITS Australia is a lobby group that promotes the use of in-vehicle devices (stability control, lane detection and cruise control), vehicle-to-vehicle units (collision avoidance, emergency notifications) and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems (variable speed control, tolling and traffic signals).
Harris says the technology can help get the most out of the existing road network.
“Existing roads in Australia now carry more traffic than ever with the aid of electronic traffic management systems. This is thanks to systems such as ramp metering, variable speed signs, ramp signals, traffic light coordination, in-car GPS and others,” Harris says.
“When new roads are built, ITS tools built into the new infrastructure maximise the return on the community’s investment. By better managing traffic, these systems also make roads safer.”
The Productivity Commission believes directly charging light vehicles has the potential to provide a better road system for motorists, if combined with reforms that ensure the revenue is put back into the road network.
Its report says the Federal Government should offer to partly fund telematics trials in the states and territories.
There is already work underway at a national level on reforming the heavy vehicle charging system.
One option under consideration includes mass-distance-location pricing, which involves fitting an in-vehicle device to the truck and charging it based on the weight it carries, how far it travels the the roads it uses.
The trucking industry supports fuel-based charging as a simpler and cheaper alternative. Under the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) proposal, vehicle registration fees would be drastically lowered in return for an increase to the fuel excise.
By basing the system around fuel, companies with fleets that travel long distances will pay more to keep their trucks going compared to a short-haul firm.