ATA supports changes to PBS


PBS should be overhauled, according to the ATA, which highlights challenges hindering the scheme

By Brad Gardner | May 31, 2010

Performance based standards should be overhauled, according to the Australian Trucking Association, which highlights a number of challenges hindering the scheme.

The ATA has supported the National Transport Commission’s proposal to end the existing state-based system.

If accepted, the NTC’s recommendation means trucking operators will approach the national regulator which will then have the responsibility of dealing with individual jurisdictions for vehicle access.

Companies currently need to deal with individual councils and state government agencies to gain road access, causing inefficiency.

The ATA says there is a lack of understanding from some government agencies dealing with access arrangements, leading to restrictions on vehicles and inconsistent levels of access.

"This lacklustre outcome is compounded further by different approaches to assessing access," the ATA writes in its submission to the NTC.

The group claims some road agencies use a process agreed by the Australian Transport Council, while others use a more restrictive and unauthorised assessment drafted by Austroads.

According to the ATA, governments continue to be "ultra conservative" when assessing bridges to see if they can support PBS vehicles despite the industry taking action to reduce overloading.

"It is time these matters are peer reviewed by independent private sector bridge experts," the submission says.

The ATA says there is a challenge in gaining local government support for PBS, such as ensuring assessment is based on infrastructure capacity and real risks rather than perceptions.

"We believe PBS is suffering from an ultra-cautious consideration of risk."

The ATA the success of PBS hinges on certainty of access, nationally consistent operating conditions, reduced compliance costs and improved industry participation.

George Konstandakos from the NTC says operators will go to the national regulator—to be set up in 2011 and fully functioning by 2013— for PBS approval and the regulator will then be responsible for dealing with the different parties.

If accepted, the NTC’s report claims the proposal will cut compliance costs from $56,000 for an operator with about 12 vehicles to $16,000.

The NTC’s report highlights serious concerns over the current running of PBS, claiming operators which have been involved in the scheme have indicated they will not use it again.

"The key deficiency of the current PBS system is in the granting of road access to approved vehicles," the NTC’s report says.


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