A partnership between the Australian Government and the country’s freight haulage industry will see the start of the first in a series of on-road trials designed to test potential direct Road User Charging (RUC) options for heavy vehicles.
The Australian Government is working with state, territory and local governments, as well as industry and community stakeholders, to progress its Heavy Vehicle Road Reform program. The government is keen to note that while no decisions have been made to change the way heavy vehicle charges are currently collected, the first stage of the National Heavy Vehicle Charging Pilot will provide a way to test potential alternatives, well ahead of any final decisions on road charging being taken.
The National Pilot will be delivered in two stages between 2019 and 2021:
- Small scale on-road trial – commenced mid-July 2019
Up to 11 operators are contributing 111 heavy vehicles to participate in the six-month trial that will test whether existing telematics technology already installed in the pilot vehicles can measure mass and distance effectively. The telematics systems are being provided by E-road, Volvo Buses and Volvo Trucks.
- Large scale on-road trial – proposed commencement in early 2020
Up to 100 businesses and 1,000 heavy vehicles are expected to be involved in this second trial which will progress for 12 months. The trial will test a wider range of data collection methods, in addition to telematics technology to encourage broader participation across all sectors of the heavy vehicle industry.
The initial small scale on-road trial will not involve payment of charges and will assess an alternative form of heavy vehicle charging using mock invoices generated by on-board technology that measures the distance travelled by heavy vehicles. The second, large scale on-road trial will also not involve payment of RUC fees, but will test a wider range of alternative charging approaches that includes continued tests of telematics technology, and alternative data collection methods, such as hubodometers and paper-based reporting.
“The heavy vehicle on-road trials will be delivered as part of broader Heavy Vehicle Road Reform, which is about creating stronger links between road usage, charges and services for road users,” explained Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack. “The Government will continue to prioritize progress on reforms to improve infrastructure investment, while testing alternative options to replace heavy vehicle registration fees and fuel-based charges. Decisions to implement a new way of collecting heavy vehicle charges may be part of a potential future stage of Heavy Vehicle Road Reform. These decisions are likely to be a number years away and will take on board the real-life experience of industry following a full evaluation of the trials.”
The Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buchholz, added, “The Federal Government is collaborating with the heavy vehicle industry, community stakeholders and all levels of government to gain a genuine understanding of a potential alternative system of heavy vehicle road user charging. Similar approaches to heavy vehicle charging reforms are being explored worldwide, including in Europe and the USA.”