NatRoad: Future Transport Strategy a step in the right direction

The NSW Future Transport Strategy released earlier this week reveals plans to prioritise freight movement over passenger vehicles in some instances and to consider introducing distance-based road user charging, but rest areas are again left out of the equation.

The NSW Government released its Future Transport Strategy on Monday. It predicts that the NSW freight task will grow by 31 per cent from 2021-61, with Port Botany reaching capacity by 2050.

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) says the strategy represents a forward-thinking approach to the road freight task.

“The intentions are good, but the test of any strategy is in its execution and delivery of real benefits,” said NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.

“Enabling micro hubs for last mile deliveries and better accommodating cleaner and more efficient road freight vehicles in urban areas are objectives that make perfect sense.

“So does distance-based road user charging, provided our industry is properly consulted, and it is applied in a fair and transparent manner – which hasn’t occurred in tolling.

“The devil will be in the detail – as we have discovered when assisting the federal department with its work on Heavy Vehicle Road Reform – and NSW will need to proceed arm-in-arm with Federal reforms.”

The document also commits NSW to develop a port efficiency strategy as a priority. Clark says NatRoad would like that to translate to better access to and from ports for higher productivity road freight vehicles.

“The goal of using existing network capacity more effectively is supported. There is still a critical need to improve what we have and port reform is overdue,” he said.

Though the complete lack of consideration towards the development of more rest areas in the strategy hasn’t gone unnoticed. “It is disappointing that nowhere in the strategy does it include the words ‘rest areas’,” said Clark.

“Having a network of adequate, well-designed rest areas for heavy vehicles at strategic locations is a fundamental building block in a safer and more efficient road freight network. It’s a no-brainer.”

The Strategy commits NSW to embed intelligent sensors and digital systems to improve the real-time management, efficiency and reliability of its transport networks. Clark said, “Smarter use of data is critical to prioritising public transport and freight vehicles.

“NatRoad has consistently underlined that data needs to be used for the greater good – for things like network efficiency and not as a means for enforcement and the linked raising of revenue.”

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