Truckies have pinpointed glaring gaps and shortcomings in the NSW rest area network in a newly released 40-page probe by Transport for NSW (TfNSW).
The Heavy Heavy Vehicle Rest Stop Stakeholder Engagement Report gives a detailed overview of what initiatives are planned, and what still needs to be done to increase the number and improve the quality of truckies’ rest areas across the state.
It also includes feedback from five industry focus groups – Road Freight NSW, NatRoad, Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association, Linfox and the National Road Freighters Association – and 104 online survey responses, collected between January and March this year.
Some of those findings revealed:
- 90 per cent of participants identified there would still be a substantial gap in rest stops following the proposed rest stop identification in the Austroads Audit.
- 65 per cent of participants noted the quantity of rest stops is either poor or very poor.
- 59 per cent of participants who engaged with the interactive map in the online survey noted Greater Sydney remains the highest priority for rest stops of heavy vehicle drivers.
- 90 per cent of online survey respondents think that gaps in the network will persist unless improvements are made.
- With the increase of female drivers within the freight industry, Transport asked participants what additional facilities or upgrades would be required. A large number of participants stated better lighting, access to security, cleaner amenities, and unisex toilets would improve rest stops for all users as well as women.
- Participants would like to see more food and beverage options either located at or close to rest stops.
- Rest stops need to be designed for longer vehicles with adequate amount of parking spaces for a variety of vehicles. In addition, rest stop signage is required to note the separation between light vehicles/caravans and heavy vehicles to manage capacity.
- Participants noted they would like to see parking areas provided in industrial zones surrounding the outskirts of Sydney and within the Sydney Metro area.
In the Sydney metro area, Port Botany, Blacktown, Eastern Creek were identified as areas requiring a rest stop, or improvements, among several others, while, further afield the M1 between Sydney and Newcastle and the Hume Highway in general were flagged as problem areas for truckies.
The report also highlighted specific issues at Yelgun with people camping there, and the Wallacetown rest stop where other vehicles were using truckies’ designated spaces.
TfNSW’s Heavy Rest Stop Improvement Program is currently in its “strategic business case phase” and is to include a “comprehensive audit” of rest stops against the Austroads Guidelines to identify gaps in the state network.
Truckie Rod Hannifey, however, president of the National Road Freighters Association, one of the focus groups enlisted by TfNSW to provide feedback for the report, wonders if that’s the best use of time and money.
He understand that Austroads, the not-for-profit organisation of Australasian road transport and traffic agencies, has also just received funding to update those same 2012 guidelines.
“Something’s going wrong here,” he said. “We’re giving a lot of people a lot of money to do the stuff that we’ve already done for free, and they won’t listen to us anyway.
“That frustrates the hell out of me.”
Hannifey said the original guidelines revealed that not one of Australia’s major highways met the minimum required standards for truck rest areas.
“Now they’re doing another study and I wonder what value we’re getting out of it, I really do.
“That money could have gone into building rest areas.”
Big Rigs has approached Austroads for comment.
The TfNSW report also outlines plans for minor to moderate works at around 40 heavy vehicle rest stops in the next 12-18 months and to identify and install more of Hannifey’s green reflectors at informal parking pays.
New rest stop sites in the works include four along the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow within five years, and two along the Newell High- way between Narrabri and Moree.
Hannifey said he’s glad that the NSW rest area report is finally out, but it doesn’t seem to provide the next step.
“It says they’re looking for funding, but doesn’t say when they’re going to act, and that’s the biggest concern.
“There’s nothing really new in it [the survey] but they did do it and they do have the information and they do agree on the need.
“What we want now is action.”
To read the full report, click here.