Benefits of the PBS Scheme quantified by NTC
The National Transport Commission (NTC) recently published a discussion paper titled “Assessing the effectiveness of the PBS marketplace.” The purpose of the discussion paper was to determine if the PBS Scheme was meeting the original policy intent, to evaluate the effectiveness of the approval processes and to suggest any improvements that could help benefit all users. The report demonstrated that the Scheme has been proving to be successful so far, improving vehicle productivity, safety and environmental impacts, though there were some barriers potentially hindering its progress.
The impressive benefits of the scheme have improved various factors related to productivity, safety and the environment:
- An estimated reduction of over 440 million kilometres of truck travel
- An average of 24.8% productivity gains across all commodities
- A 6.2% gross tonne-kilometre saving for 2016
- A saving of $65 million in road maintenance expenses for financial year 2015-2016.
- At least four lives saved between 2014-2016
- 46% fewer major crashes than existing non-PBS vehicles for the same distance travelled.
- A saving of 94 million litres of fuel in 2016
- A reduction in CO2 emissions by approximately 250,000 tonnes.
Despite these benefits, PBS vehicles did not meet the expectation that was set in place by the PBS Regulatory Impact Statement. It was stated that by the end of 2016, approximately 18,600 PBS vehicles would be operating, however the actual figure is approximately 5,000-6,000. This was primarily attributed to negative transport GDP growth from 2009-2016 and barriers relating to access.
The issues related to access decisions and certainty are proving to be particularly frustrating for operators. Three solutions that were presented to help improve the systems associated with access decisions include:
- Mapping networks for all four A and B levels of the PBS network at GML, CML and HML, and ensuring these are integrated with the NHVR Journey Planner and Access Portal; the mapped networks could then be used to close gaps in the road network, including disjoints at state boundaries
- Providing PBS vehicles with as-of-right access to the PBS networks without the need to obtain permits.
- Implementing a harmonised method across states for undertaking in-principle assessments so that the majority of in-principle approvals result in permits.
Even though there is much work to be done to improve access for PBS vehicles, future growth looks promising. In 2016 close to 50% of newly registered vehicles in the ‘hire and reward’ sector were PBS-approved. The solutions offered to help overcome the barriers, particularly related to access, would likely see even more growth in the scheme.