PBS too costly for small operators, Bob Pearson says

By: Steve Skinner

Bob Pearson, known as the 'father of the B-double', says the Performance Based Standards' regime is a disadvantage to small operators

PBS too costly for small operators, Bob Pearson says
Pearson favours modular solutions such as B-doubles and B-triples

Transport consultant Bob Pearson, widely regarded as the 'father of the B-double' in Australia, has criticised Performance Based Standards (PBS) on equity and safety grounds.

PBS is where operators can seek special approval for unique tailor-made trailer solutions, often involving extra weight. The scheme has been administered for the past year by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

Pearson believes that contrary to national competition policy, small operators are "totally disadvantaged" by the scheme.

"I tend to think that PBS in many ways is anti-competitive, and that’s one of the things I’m concerned about," he says.

"Small operators don’t have access to PBS at the moment, it’s just too costly.

"With PBS you have got to design your particular vehicle, it will cost you a minimum of ten grand to get the thing assessed, you have got to go through the system of getting it approved by the national PBS body, and then you’ve got no guarantee you are going to get it on the road."

Pearson, a bridge engineer by trade who began researching B-doubles in 1979, has held senior technical and management positions in government agencies including VicRoads and the National Road Transport Commission.

He was chairman of the Higher Mass Limits (HML) Review when in the 1990s it approved an increase in semi-trailer GCM to 45.5 tonnes, subject to certain requirements such as road friendly suspensions.

Pearson favours modular solutions such as B-doubles and B-triples which in theory anybody can buy and operate, and which can be broken up into standard vehicles.

He says he has calculated that the claimed productivity benefits of PBS over the next 10 years could be achieved if an extra half a tonne is allowed on every standard tri-axle.

"In my view the benefits of the PBS are absolutely minimal at this stage," he says.

"The NHVR are working very hard towards solving some of those issues, but I’m not a supporter at all of the current arrangements."

Pearson also expressed some concern about safety under the current PBS system, saying that a "huge percentage" of approvals in Victoria have been of truck and single trailer combinations above 50 tonnes GCM.

"Nobody can convince me that a truck and trailer is a safer vehicle than a B-double," he says.

Pearson says he supports future changes to the PBS flagged by the NHVR on its website.

They are a one-stop-shop for PBS vehicle and route access approvals; streamlined access to PBS networks; modular assessment; and manufacturers’ self-certification.

Read the full interview in the February edition of Owner//Driver.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the Owner Driver e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook


Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire