Transport ministers agree to PBS upgrade

Australia’s transport ministers have voted unanimously in favour of changes to Performance Based Standards (PBS) designed to boost the scheme’s ability to deliver a safer, more productive and sustainable trucking industry.

PBS was introduced in 2007 as a regulatory framework to enable the use of higher productivity vehicles on pre-approved routes. However, industry participation in the scheme has been limited by problems in gaining certainty of road network access and a lack of operational flexibility.

According to National Transport Commission (NTC) chief executive Nick Dimopoulos, changes to PBS will give truck operators greater certainty of access and operational flexibility and result in a range of benefits to the community.

“The changes will encourage industry to use safer and more efficient vehicles on our roads,” Dimopoulos stated. “With Australia’s freight task forecast to treble by 2050, the PBS scheme will position us well for the future as it will help keep costs to consumers down and reduce road congestion.

“As well as an overall $5.6 billion in savings to our economy, encouraging the use of more innovative and productive heavy vehicles is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3.75 million tonnes and save over 85 lives by 2030.”

Changes to the scheme approved by ministers include:

  • Moving to a national system for vehicle assessment and access decisions for PBS vehicles under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). Currently operators need to negotiate access with individual road managers;
  • Developing a system of modular assessment for PBS combination vehicles to allow a range of prime movers to be used providing they have been PBS approved to match the trailer specifications;
  • Offering the option for manufacturer self-certification to remove the requirement for manufacturers to employ a third party to certify each vehicle.

The changes are detailed in a Regulatory Impact Statement available on the NTC website and will be incorporated in an amendment bill to the Heavy Vehicle National Law which is expected to go to transport ministers in March 2012.

Changes to the scheme, once approved by the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI), will then come into effect when the NHVR becomes operational in 2013.

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