Feds will only support national PBS reform: Mrdak

Federal transport department supports national PBS reforms and more transparency to help trucking operators

By Brad Gardner | May 28, 2010

The federal government has backed national reforms to performance based standards (PBS) and wants greater transparency on access restrictions.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government has written the National Transport Commission (NTC) supporting a national assessment process.

The NTC has recommended an end to the existing state-based system so trucking operators will deal with the national truck regulator to gain access instead of state and local governments.

The department’s secretary, Mike Mrdak, says the national option is consistent with a governmental agreement to end cross-border differences through the regulator and a national partnership agreement (NPA).

He says a state-based scheme "is not an outcome that would be welcomed by the commonwealth and would undermine the intent of the NPA provisions".

In his letter, Mrdak highlights the NTC’s conclusion that a lack of certainty of vehicle access has dissuaded operators from enrolling in PBS.

He says the NTC should develop a proposal that outlines reasons why operators cannot access certain routes.

"For example, mapping vulnerable infrastructure may improve certainty and prevent inappropriate route applications while providing the opportunity for advice to jurisdictions on industry investment priorities," Mrdak says.

In its policy proposal, the NTC argues operators currently need to deal with multiple government departments to negotiate road access depending on where they want to travel.

Under the NTC’s plan, companies will go to the national regulator—to be set up in 2011and fully functioning by 2013— for PBS approval and the regulator will then be responsible for dealing with the different parties.

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.

Despite a specific panel being set up to approve PBS applications, the statement says 17 percent of the 75 vehicles approved have been slapped with extra operating conditions by individual jurisdictions.

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