Australia should change its truck user fees. The difference between heavy vehicle charges and money spent on road maintenance, construction costs. Road crashes involving large trucks, pollution, and urban road congestion. Amounts at least to a subsidy of A$3 billion annually by the taxpayer.
Like car fees, the current charges are based on annual registration fees as well as fuel taxation. Australia should follow the example of New Zealand, Switzerland, and other European countries by introducing a mass-based charge system.
Over the years, there have been numerous inquiries into the system and another one is underway. By the National Transport Commission (federal government). For a two-year initial period, heavy vehicle fees have been frozen at 2015-16 levels.
Heavy Vehicles Truck Have High Costs
The National Transport Commission determines the truck road user fees in Australia. The number of axles and the gross vehicle weight are factors that influence the annual registration fees.
For example, the annual fee for a six-wheel semitrailer costs A$6,334 while it costs A$15,000.16 for a nine-wheeler B-Double. Trucks are subject to fuel excise at 25.9 cents per gallon (which will increase to 24.8 cents on July 1st). While motorists pay 40.1 Cents per gallon.
It seems high to pay the registration fee. A B-Double can result in 20,000x the wear and tear on the roads than a family vehicle. A semitrailer with six axles costs 56 cents NZ (about 52 Australian dollars) per kilometre in mass-distance charges. A truck that travels 100,000km per year or more in Australia. Pays less than 17 cents per km for registration and fuel road user fees.
New Zealand’s road users charges, which mainly consist of mass distance charges levied by heavy trucks. Make up 37% of the total revenue for their land transport fund.
According to data from the Australian National Transport Commission, heavy vehicle operators. Paid about A$3 trillion in combined road user fees and registration fees revenue between 2014-15. This only accounts for 12.5% of the $24 billion in annual government road spending.
It is hard to understand why heavy vehicle charges in Australia should not be increased to a third of New Zealand’s. These subsidies do not benefit the truck driver, but companies that choose to transport large loads on the road.
Traffic Increases With Low Charges Truck
One reason for the steady shift from rail to road in interstate freight is because of ongoing hidden subsidies for long-distance heavy trucks.
For example, freight between Sydney and Melbourne now moves more than 15,000,000 tonnes annually by way of semi-trailers and B-Doubles every day and night. Rail now transports about 2% intercapital freight via this corridor in containers, along with some steel or bulk freight. Since the early 1990s when rail carried more than 20% of Melbourne-Sydney freight, this has decreased.
Shell Oil’s 2009 decision to stop using rail in long-haul transport of petroleum products in New South Wales, and instead use B-Doubles was yet another shift. This was partly due to subsidies for B-double operations and ongoing concessions to heavy truck dimensions and mass.
Over time, there have been minor adjustments in truck road user fees. The road freight industry has been able to resist even small increases, so this under-recovery of road system cost costs has persisted for decades.
Reform In Australia
Despite the fact that reform in Australia has been difficult, there are signs that some changes could be happening. The Victorian government asked the National Transport Commission to review the allocation of heavy truck road costs. Jay Wetherill, the South Australian Premier, demanded that a national heavy vehicle road-user charge system be established and managed by the Commonwealth. The proposed system would replace state-based registrations and federal-based fuel-excise fees with a charging system that is based on mass and distance.
Paul Fletcher, Urban Infrastructure Minister, suggested in August that trucks exceeding 4.5 tonnes should be subject to road user fees that are more accurate and reflect the damage they cause our roads. He also suggested the establishment of an independent price regulator.
Road outlays in Australia are now more than A$24billion per year, as Australia’s population is growing. By 2020, road congestion will cost more than A$20 billion annually. It is long past time to make real progress in road pricing reforms for heavy trucks.