Trailer Magazine

VTA and MTAG welcome new Smart Freight Partnership in Melbourne

  • Posted on Wednesday 10th, July 2019.

A Victorian Transport Association (VTA) proposal to curfew roads in west Melbourne for use by vehicles considered old and less environmentally friendly has evolved under the State Government with support from the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group (MTAG).

The Smart Freight Partnership – Inner West announced this week by the Victorian Government aims to provide an economic and productivity incentive for freight operators that invest in new trucks with cleaner engines.

The Smart Freight Partnership, described by the Victorian Government as an Australian first, follows mandates in European and Asian cities in which freight operators are restricted access unless they modernise their fleet.

The average median age of the Australian truck fleet is 14.9 years making Australia's commercial vehicles on average one of the oldest truck fleets in the developed world.

The initiative, according to the VTA, is also an example of how traditional adversaries can work constructively together to achieve solutions that benefit residents and operators.

By coming up with incentives for operators industry groups have helped prompt freight companies transition to newer trucks that are quieter, safer and more fuel efficient the industry body said in an issued statement.

Access times to these roads would be reduced for trucks that don’t meet current emission control standards, resulting in a reduction of two hours per day for the first two years, followed by a further two-hour reduction per day in subsequent years.

In its plan, the Government has not included curfews for Williamstown Road and Buckley Street, which the VTA and MTAG included in the original proposal and see as essential for signing a final agreement.

The Smart Freight Partnership has evolved from the Maribyrnong Cleaner Freight Initiative, developed by the VTA and MTAG, back in 2017 when it was first proposed to the State Government.

As part of the Smart Freight Partnership, an Environment Freight Zone covering Somerville Road and Moore, Francis and Buckley streets in Melbourne’s inner west would be established.

Trucks manufactured on or after 1 January 2010 that meet stricter emission control standards (Australian Design Rule 80/03 or EURO V equivalent) will have three hours more access on weekdays than the older trucks and two hours more time on Saturdays.

Industry-led training is a key element of the program which includes measures to deliver driver awareness training on local access, safety  and amenity issues.

According to VTA CEO Peter Anderson industry and community groups can achieve great things when they work together and acknowledge their individual needs and interests can be achieved through compromise and mature discussions.

"It is encouraging that the Victorian Government has recognised the merits of the visionary plan we developed with MTAG by establishing the Smart Freight Partnership, which we look forward to implementing in conjunction with operators, residents, Freight Victoria and local and state governments,” he said.

MTAG President Martin Wurt said he was pleased the Victorian Government continued to recognise community needs solutions to the issue of trucks on residential streets in the inner west.

"We will continue to work with all stakeholders to achieve a final agreement that reflects verbal discussions between MTAG and the VTA, and senior executives from VicRoads, Freight Victoria and Maribyrnong City Council, and Ministers Pulford and Horne,” he said.

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