The trucking industry can be in no doubt that a road charging change will come. Federal Government departments have been pushing for it for nearly twenty years and the fact that the technology to monitor mass/distance/location charging has become so much more affordable makes its introduction virtually unavoidable.
Limited testing began last year for the technology and more comprehensive trials continue. The trial tested whether telematics devices already installed in the participating vehicles could measure mass and distance effectively. Location is not far out of the equation.
The data recorded and passed onto the authorities, based on distance, weight and location, compares fuel and rego charges with potential direct user charges, which the government is planning on introducing.
The Small Scale On-Road Trial started in July 2019 and finished in January 2020. A total of twelve heavy vehicle operators participated, contributing 259 vehicles. Trial participants collectively operated across all states and territories and included buses and rigid and articulated trucks. Telematics service providers collected monthly vehicle trip distance, fuel consumption and location data.
The trial demonstrated that gathering distance and location data is feasible and can be done efficiently through an automated Application Programming Interface using telematics service providers’ open source databases.
The trial found that the extraction of fuel consumption data from participants’ systems and recording of configuration data by participants was difficult. The Federal Department reckons workable supplier solutions will need to be found for the next stage, a large scale trial.
Under the mock charge rate schedule used in the small scale trial, some participants, including line haul operators and other operators found they may pay more under a mass/distance charge than under PAYGO. It is expected the larger scale trial will test alternative charging rates.
The data collection methods used by the Department were labour intensive and judged by them to not be feasible on a large scale. There is an expectation that a database automating the process should be developed for the large scale trial.
As an industry, we know road charging change will come, we just have to be involved in the process to ensure the eventual system is not inequitable.