Friday, June 25, 2010

ATA Remind Truck Owners Of Tax Hikes And Call For Safety

Registration and Fuel Tax Up - Level Crossings Need Work
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – The ATA, that’s the Aussie Trucking Association, not their US cousins known by the same acronym, have issued a timely reminder to freight trucking companies that truck registration and fuel charges will generally rise by 4.2 per cent from 1 July, with the registration charges on some truck combinations increasing by more than 25 per cent. Following an Australian Transport Council (ATC) decision earlier this year, the fuel tax credit received by operators will decrease from 16.443 cents per litre to 15.543 cents per litre while truck registration fees rise.

Registration charges will increase across the board, but the new fees will be much more than 4.2 per cent in some cases. 2010-11 is the last year of a three year phase in of higher registration charges for large combinations and the total registration charge for a B-double will go up from A$12,214 to A$15,340, an increase of A$3,126 or 25.6 per cent whilst a triple road train jumps from A$12,606 to A$13,372, an increase of A$766 or 6.1 per cent.

ATA Chief Executive, Stuart St Clair points out the necessity for operators to pass on the excess charges to avoid financial problems and ensure unanimity within the industry, and he reiterated the ATA position on the fuel tax credit which is largely supportive as it helps fund the dramatic increase in road spending that occurred between 2002 and 2009, the seven-year period used to work out the change.

“This spending got results for the trucking industry, with major road projects completed in every state and territory. The bill is due, and we’re being asked to pay our share. We will continue working with the Government to secure more money for road safety and to make sure the existing money is spent as effectively as possible,” he said.

“Every trucking operator needs to review the effect these changes will have on their costs, and then adjust their fuel surcharges or freight rates from 1 July.”

Meantime the Australian government has apparently seen the sense in the ATA call for improved safety levels on the country’s level crossings. In a land where road/rail accidents are all too common due to various factors, topography, population and traffic levels etc. an urgent review is essential. In 2003 the ATC adopted the methodology of the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model (ALCAM) countrywide. ALCAM gives a concrete idea of accident blackspots and the most dangerous crossings are prioritised for improvement and has been updated for 2010 to 2020 by the ATC.

Although recommendations for ALCAM hotspots include several physical improvements (installation of flashing lights and boom gates, high intensity lights (LED's) rail realignment etc.) the ATA are lobbying for an updated approach using modern technology. As Stuart St Clair pointed out to the House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government last year:

“If you drive into one of the tunnels in Sydney and Melbourne, and there is an accident or a problem, a cut-in system operates in your car radio and talks to you. The technology is there to put a similar device on trains that could cut-in […] and inform drivers when a train is nearby. By doing that, drivers would know what they can expect at any upcoming crossing.”

Now it seems the government agree and are to invest in further research to try to avoid previous situations, like the 87 fatal accidents on the crossings in the ten years to 1998.