Action on congestion should assist the freight task

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has today told a New South Wales economic inquiry that any moves to stop city congestion must not slow down the movement of freight.

“Australian cities are key centres of demand, supply and processing of freight, but are bottlenecks that suffer from congestion. Land-use planning does not consider the movement of freight and imposes red tape on freight operations. During this pandemic, we should be concentrating on measures which cut that red tape”, said Mr Warren Clark, NatRoad Chief Executive.

NatRoad has made a submission to the New South Wales Review of Federal Financial Relations, entitled Supporting the Road to Recovery. In the submission, NatRoad reinforces that urban congestion is largely the result of light vehicle movements. Plans to deal with congestion should assist the movement of freight whilst discouraging commuter traffic. Governments will need to implement solutions involving land use planning, transport planning, public transport investments and road infrastructure upgrades.

“Any process or trial that is instituted to combat congestion should preference freight, with operations often occurring outside peak times, and discourage light vehicle use, especially during peak times.  The time is ripe for reinforcing the essential work that the freight industry does for the community”, Mr Clark said. 

The current pandemic has underlined that governments should not impose unnecessary curfews and regulatory restrictions on heavy vehicle movements, which may result in increased heavy vehicle traffic over longer, less direct routes. These restrictions are often an attempt to mitigate community concerns around the presence of heavy vehicles, which result from failing to integrate land use planning and heavy vehicle access, a matter that any moves by governments towards road pricing for congestion must consider.

“NatRoad wants an efficient freight supply chain, which is able to operate 24 hours, 7 days a week on an appropriately identified and maintained network. Requiring heavy vehicles to travel only during daylight hours or in certain specified time periods over less-than-optimal routes impedes productivity, increases operating costs and adds to road congestion, particularly along major routes to key ports or airports that are shared with light vehicles.

“Workplace reform is also an essential component in reducing congestion. Part of the inflexibility associated with road use and freight deliveries arises from the workplace relations system, which is locked into a “normalised” use of roads and start and finish times for workers. The pandemic has meant the governments are looking at introducing greater flexibility into the workplace relations system, a course of action NatRoad fully supports,” Mr Clark concluded.