Truck tunnel ban would cause more harm than good, says peak body

Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has warned that a call for “large trucks” to be banned from the Sydney Harbour Tunnel would actually do more harm than good – impacting road safety, local supply chains and the wider NSW economy.

After a truck triggered sensors on the south-bound of the Warringah Freeway on the approach to the tunnel this morning, the Business Sydney organisation said that the Minns government had ‘no choice’ than to ‘immediately ban large trucks of this kind from using the Sydney Harbour Tunnel’.

RFNSW CEO Simon O’Hara described the comments as a “knee-jerk reaction” which, if imposed, would have crippling impacts on the daily operations of operators, many of whom are small, family-owned trucking businesses already facing higher road-user charges, workers compensation and wages.

“Given that we’re a member of Business Sydney, we’re disappointed that they would make such ill-conceived comments without reaching out to RFNSW and our members, asking that we work collaboratively on solutions around this issue of large trucks using tunnels across the Sydney metropolitan road network,” O’Hara said.

“We need to think about the implications of what Business Sydney is proposing – on safety, on small business, on our critical supply chains and the wider NSW economy. Business Sydney needs to explain: what type and size truck do they want banned?

“Would these trucks be stopped from using just the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, or would this policy also apply to other major roads, like the WestConnex and NorthConnex motorways? And we also question if Business Sydney discussed their proposal with the operators of these motorways and the obvious loss of revenue they would suffer?”

O’Hara said RFNSW is extremely concerned that large performance trucks, particularly PBS-approved vehicles, would be removed from tunnel roads and be forced back on to suburban roads.

“This would pose a real safety risk to motorists on smaller, unsuitable roads and be in direct contravention of national and state safety standards and laws,” he said.

“As an industry, we’re still recovering from the COVID pandemic, which is why we cannot compromise freight operations across NSW, by selectively banning some vehicles from our roads. Is the suggestion that trucks use suburban community roads and not use the infrastructure designed for heavy vehicles? If it is, then we are going to have more problems than a obstructed tunnel. We need to ensure best safety and economic outcomes for all motorists and the community.

“RFNSW believes we still require greater public awareness and education policies and technology to ensure that drivers are made aware of their responsibilities and are taking preventative actions and complying regulations, particularly those drivers coming from interstate or out of Sydney.”

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