It would seem there is a growing likelihood of peace, quiet and low emissions in the west of Melbourne after an agreement between the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and Maribyrnong Truck Action Group (MTAG) to incentivise freight operators to upgrade to lower emissions trucks, as a condition for using curfewed roads in the area to the west of the Port of Melbourne for longer hours.
The initiative could pave the way for other suburbs, around Australia, where there is a conflict between the needs of the economy from the trucking industry and the concerns of local residents in the areas the trucks have to traverse. The agreement could be used as a model in cases where improved access can be granted in return for cleaner and quieter transport operations.
The Smart Freight Partnership – Inner West announced by the Victorian Government evolved from the Maribyrnong Cleaner Freight Initiative, developed by the VTA and MTAG and proposed to government in 2017.
A key aim of the proposal was to lessen the environmental and amenity impacts of trucks in the community, whilst providing an economic and productivity incentive for freight operators that invest in new trucks with lower emitting, ‘cleaner’ engines.
The Smart Freight Partnership is an Australian first in terms of encouraging freight operators to modernise their fleet and is seen by industry and the community as one way of reducing the age of Australia’s ageing heavy vehicle fleet. With an average age of 14.9 years Australia has one of the oldest truck fleets in the developed world, prompting industry groups to come up with incentives for operators to transition to new trucks that are quieter, safer and use less fuel.
The initiative is also an example of how traditional adversaries can work constructively together to achieve solutions that benefit residents and operators.
“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,” said Peter Anderson, VTA CEO. “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.”
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 will be established. Access times to these roads will 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.
Trucks manufactured on or after 1 January 2010 that meet stricter emission control standards (ADR 80/03 or EURO5) 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.