Too many loads on our roads when rail is the answer

 

News article: Too many loads on our roads when rail is the answer

[color=#383838][size=3][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]“Without trucks, Australia stops” is now a fact of modern life.

  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Cost (from the point of view of the customer).

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  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
The way roads will be funded in the future is going to drastically change.

As road funding is largely based on petrol tax the percentage of cars to petrol tax will diminish as cars move more to hybrid and electric models.

If this happens trucks and heavily vehicles will pay more and more through increased road taxes.

Rail is the only answer to halting increased road charges.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
^Nope.

Some more, some less.  The best you can say is that they are about the same.
donttellmywife

Those figures are incomplete - the excise collected is higher, that appears to be petroleum only.

The road spending figures also include amenity expenses and the like unattributable to vehicular use.

The NTC has all the information regarding revenue and expenditure.

To the younger members a 'spread bogie' was designed to take advantage of a regulation where if the axle centres on the trailer were more than 10 feet apart you could carry an extra ton butthe front axle of the trailer used to get dragged sideways as the trailer pivoted on its back axle on tight turns (such as a right or left turn into a street) and if done at one spot regularly used to rip up the asphalt.
HardWorkingMan

Ahh pig trailers, they've all but disappeared.

imagine the damage to the road network. b-doubles can do a lot of damage. a lot of damage has already been done on the highway between adelaide and port augusta. the road has become unsafe due to the high number of trucks over here.
JimYarin

No more than a standard semi-trailer, since the axle loads are the same.

why is it hard for rail to complete at this task?
JimYarin

Double handling - everyone sticking their finger in the pie.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Those figures are incomplete - the excise collected is higher, that appears to be petroleum only.

The road spending figures also include amenity expenses and the like unattributable to vehicular use.

The NTC has all the information regarding revenue and expenditure.
ZH836301

Is there a significant quantity of fuel used in road going vehicles that is not petroleum based (i.e. petrol, diesel or natural gas and the like - excise from all of which are in that figure, net of fuel tax credits)?

The NTC road expenditure data, as listed towards the end of their most recent annual report, appears to be similar to what I've presented.

I doubt "amenity expenses" are material.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Petrol, as in it's missing the component from diesel or is in some other way deficient.

Read this report to your heart's content.

And from the Productivity Commission in 2007 regarding amenity costs.

Based, somewhat loosely, on a survey of local government engineers, the NTC
estimates that 75 per cent of urban local road expenditure and 50 per cent of rural
local road expenditure is incurred solely to provide local access and amenity. This
expenditure, amounting to $1.3 billion for the Second Determination and
$2.9 billion based on the updated data used in the Third Determination, is excluded
from the costs to be recovered from road users.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Your links are broken (a previously reported problem with this site).

Local access cost in the PC report is mainly referring to the cost of providing and maintaining local access roads.  I don't see why local access road costs should be excluded from general road costs (i.e. as part of testing your assertion that the general fuel excise would be "much less" if it was tied to actual road spending).  

It is a separate question whether they are considered relevant to cost recovery from heavy vehicles.

The revenue figure includes excise on both diesel and petrol (and other petroleum fuels) - which make up about half the total, plus state and federal registration charges, state licence charges, state stamp duty and tolls.  It doesn't include FBT or GST - reasons as stated previously.  What specifically is deficient?
  HardWorkingMan Chief Commissioner

Location: Echuca
Pig trailers are not spread trailers. pig trailers are towed behind a rigid truck via an a-frame like a trailer that goes behind a cat. Their axle grouping is similar to a bogie or tri axle semi.  A spread trailer is a conventional semi with wide spacing on the bogie.  

The difference between a pig trailer and a dog trailer is the dog trailers front wheels pivot on the a-frame to follow the truck a pig trailers doesn't.  Most tippers these days tow quad dogs or larger (2 bogies - front one steers) due to their higher payload.

Having said that Pig Trailers are still popular when excavating sites where access is difficult. They are easier to reverse and will pivot on a smaller footprint
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Links fixed.

The numbers do not match what I've seen for total fuel excise collections, less fuel tax credits, from NTC, ATO, PC and the like.  I wouldn't dismiss the GSTs relevance to such data either, since it is a tax on a tax, and the excise amount was reduced to account for implementation of the GST.

Local access roads would exist even if cars didn't, as they are necessary to provide property access.  Much of the cost is in allocation, grading, drainage, etc. which again would still need to be built despite a lack of cars.  Most local roads are funded through local rates and development taxes, and maintenance budgets are close to zero.

Amenity expenses are excluded from heavy vehicle user costs because they aren't necessary for operation of said vehicles.  Why should commercial operators pay for things like car parking, civil access, footpaths and landscaping?  There is general basis for excluding such things from the light vehicle user base too due to connection with local government revenue through rates, and again, the disconnect between their relation to actual road use.

From 2004-2005 we had (source PC 2007):



Heavy vehicles are allocated $1.63 billion of costs, and light vehicles $5.13 billion.

Assuming the BTRE figures are correct, light vehicle excise collected $8.7 billion and registrations $2.95 billion.

So in 2004-2005 heavy vehicles cost $1.67 billion and paid $1.67 billion, light vehicles cost $5.13 billion and paid $11.65 billion.

Hence light vehicles overpaid actual road usage by $6.52 billion or 2.27 times that required.

The overpayment is reducing due to the lack of indexation of fuel excise combined with increasing road spending costs, but should be adjusted when its non-indexed value reduces to equity with light vehicle road costs to become a de facto light vehicle road user charge.  At the moment, the excess in excise unfairly targets those who drive more, typically those in rural and outer suburban areas who have no public transport alternatives.

While it's generally fair to charge more to those who drive more, it isn't fair to derive a general source of revenue based on how much you do drive.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Pig trailers are not spread trailers. pig trailers are towed behind a rigid truck via an a-frame like a trailer that goes behind a cat. Their axle grouping is similar to a bogie or tri axle semi.  A spread trailer is a conventional semi with wide spacing on the bogie.  
HardWorkingMan

Did they have this rule at the time, or did it come about to try and get rid of them?

Axle spacing For the calculation of the number of axles on heavy vehicles, the following rules apply:

2 axles not more than 1 metre apart form the wheel centres are regarded as 1 axle
3 axles not more than 2 metres apart from the wheel centres are regarded as 2 axles
4 axles not more than 3.2 metres apart from the wheel centres are regarded as 3 axles
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Links fixed.

The numbers do not match what I've seen for total fuel excise collections, less fuel tax credits, from NTC, ATO, PC and the like. I wouldn't dismiss the GSTs relevance to such data either, since it is a tax on a tax, and the excise amount was reduced to account for implementation of the GST.

Local access roads would exist even if cars didn't, as they are necessary to provide property access. Much of the cost is in allocation, grading, drainage, etc. which again would still need to be built despite a lack of cars. Most local roads are funded through local rates and development taxes, and maintenance budgets are close to zero.
ZH836301

Petrol excise forecast for 2011/12 in the 2012/13 budget (i.e. this is the forecast of end of year figures made a few months before the end of year) was $6 billion, diesel was $8.2 billion (see paper one, statement five at http://www.budget.gov.au/2012-13/content/bp1/html/bp1_bst5-04.htm, table 11).

Fuel tax credits (statement 6, http://www.budget.gov.au/2012-13/content/bp1/html/bp1_bst6-04.htm, table 12.1) of $5.7 billion, given a forecast net of $8.5 billion.  

BITRE's figure for that period in the 2013 infrastructure yearbook (http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2013/yearbook_2013.aspx) is $9.0 billion.

That's close enough for me, given one of them is a forecast made some months out.

If you are going to start considering GST as a road user charge, then presumably we can start considering secondary costs, such as emergency response and public hospital costs for accidents, as expenditure that the road user should also pay?  That rabbit hole can also lead to arguments along the lines that the road user should pay for some proportion of the public transport system, since they benefit through reduced congestion.

Historically there may well have been an imbalance in total charges and total expenditure across all vehicles.  Perhaps that imbalance will return in years to come - I have no idea.  But, it the argument that the excise should be considered a tax right now seems very weak - given the two figures have been similar for the last five years or so.

As I said earlier - how costs are allocated between light vehicles and heavy vehicles is where things get interesting.

The regional local government area that I live in devotes about a third of its capital budget to maintenance of its existing road network, plus an operating contribution or approximately the same magnitude.  That's not a maintenance budget of "nearly zero".
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
The imbalances are obviously going to occur because it is impossible to entirely line up road expenditure and revenue in any particular year, the charges are averaged on a rolling basis to help smooth out any discrepancies.

Maintenance is minimal on local roads, most of them in my area have not been touched in 20 years.  Any maintenance by local government is generally limited to collector roads and secondary arterials.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The imbalances are obviously going to occur because it is impossible to entirely line up road expenditure and revenue in any particular year, the charges are averaged on a rolling basis to help smooth out any discrepancies.
ZH836301

Are you confusing charging for heavy vehicles with charging across all vehicles?  If there is any process to reconcile and smooth total primary road charges with primary road expenditure, it must be informal.

I would think "imbalances" are more likely to occur (or disappear) with decisions to progress (or not) major road projects and decisions to increase (or not) fuel excise.  Those are political decisions.

Given many local regions have a maintenance deficit, there would also be a link between funding made available to that level of government and local road expenditure.

A local suburban street not having major maintenance done on it for twenty years or more doesn't surprise me - given the typical duty and design life for those sorts of roads.
  Bulbous Assistant Commissioner

One of the main issues I have with the NTC report and the method devised of determining the allocation to heavy vehicles (and thus their registration/access charges) is that all parties consider that the method of calculation is conservative at best, and in the eyes of the Productivity Commision, could be as much as 37% under the true cost. The issue is with the data collection and that each review into the data available is inconclusive either way - in that the conservative values could be right but it could also be right that it is under-valuing the cost of heavy vehicles on the road network. When it comes to getting better data, the excuse is that the cost of retrieving that data should be less than the value recovered from the outcome of the data, which encourages no-one to actually collect it.

However, when the possible yearly alllocation of costs to heavy vehicles could be out by up to $560 million per year (above allocation figure by 1.37 as per PC's variance), we are not talking small values here.

I am not sure of the situation on local roads in the east coast regions, but here in WA, where almost every local road is open to 36.5m double road trains, and the current push is on to have 52.5m triple road trains to come through to the northern outskirts of Perth, the local governments have quite a large cost put onto them to keep the local network suitable for these heavy vehicles. The costs for local access to the Main roads network is also pushed to the local governments (intersection upgrades, turning apron widening, etc), as well as the abortion known as the Grain Freight Network which was basic upgrading to various local government roads by a one-off funding process, and the upkeep is handed to the local governments to allow for closing the rail network. This transfer of maintenance funding is going to come back to bite severely in about five years time (even sooner as some of the network is already breaking up under the loaded grain trucks), and again the councils will be asking for funding grants to maintain the network.

Not saying that the funding model should be straight forward or easy, but the evidence is that the funding model is a conservative one based on the lack of sufficient existing data, and the push to get better sufficient data to make better funding judgements and to have cost allocation regimes backed up by sound data sets is severely lacking for various reasons.

There is also the view that the NTC is widely known as the National Trucking Council throughout almost every agency that has dealings with them. Whether this view is accurate or not, it is still the wide-held view of many various transportation groups, especially in WA.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Are you confusing charging for heavy vehicles with charging across all vehicles?  If there is any process to reconcile and smooth total primary road charges with primary road expenditure, it must be informal.

The two are being discussed in this thread when really we should only be considering one (heavy vehicles).

There are obviously minor discrepancies between heavy vehicle revenue (road user charge and registration) and attributable expenditure in either direction on a yearly basis since they are impossible to line up perfectly since revenue changes with registrations and vehicle kilometres, and expenditure changes with major road projects. There is a formal means by which the expenditure is calculated, it's on the NTC website somewhere, from memory it's a three year moving average of expenditure but it may have changed.
  Bulbous Assistant Commissioner

The two are being discussed in this thread when really we should only be considering one (heavy vehicles).

There are obviously minor discrepancies between heavy vehicle revenue (road user charge and registration) and attributable expenditure in either direction on a yearly basis since they are impossible to line up perfectly since revenue changes with registrations and vehicle kilometres, and expenditure changes with major road projects. There is a formal means by which the expenditure is calculated, it's on the NTC website somewhere, from memory it's a three year moving average of expenditure but it may have changed.
ZH836301

I was under the understanding that the rolling average was now over seven years, to better smooth out the peaks and dips, but would be happy to be corrected on this.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
That sounds correct.

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