It has not been widely reported, but MTAG has been recently involved in a stoush with Chalmers, a large container transport firm that operates at the far west end of Francis St in Yarraville. Chalmers is one of the major generators of truck traffic on Francis St and sends containers to the port (as well as empty trucks from the port) via Francis St, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
MTAG has long argued that Chalmers should not be included in the ‘local trucks’ exemption given their depot is only meters from Millers Rd and a convenient entry to the Westgate Freeway. MTAG’s view is in line with the Victorian Transport Association, which recommends that trucks use the Westgate Freeway and Bolte Bridge calling it ‘The Easy Way’ Freeway Benefits Program download pdf
Recently, Chalmers moved its operations west of Cemetery Rd (which intersects Francis St) taking them outside the curfew boundary. Chalmers has, however, kept using Francis St and ignored our calls to respect residential health, safety, and amenity. Instead, amazingly, Chalmers’ general manager Craig Webster called for B Triples to be allowed to use Francis St in this local news piece.
Provocatively he also states that his trucks will continue to use Francis St after the on/off ramps linking the Westgate to the port are built.
This spurred MTAG into action and, with the help of local member Wade Noonan we sought a ruling from the Minister, which unequivocally states that Chalmers’ operations are now outside the local truck zone and its trucks are not allowed to use Francis St in curfew hours. Vic Roads has acknowledged this ruling and has had meetings with Mr Webster to inform him that Chalmers trucks must now use the route to the port via the Westgate during curfew hours. Vic Roads has backed this action with policing and some fines but it is not enough and Chalmers trucks continue to break the law.
It seems that Chalmers’ main issue is the fact that currently, if it uses the Westgate route its trucks have to pay a small toll on the Bolte Bridge. MTAG has therefore sought a meeting with Chalmers to try to find ways we can lobby together to hurry the completion of the Westgate on/off ramp project, which would mean that Chalmers trucks could access the port without using Francis St and without paying tolls. Mr Webster has ignored our emails and messages.
Chalmers has also belligerently continued to ignore the curfews obviously making some kind of calculation that the savings made on tolls by using Francis St outweigh the amount it will have to pay in fines given the limited resources Vic Roads allocates to policing the curfews.
We need action from MTAG members on this. We need you to write to local member, Wade Noonan, firstname.lastname@example.org and to Minister Tim Pallas requesting greater resources for policing curfews. We also call for citizens to report curfew breakers, here’s how:
Any truck exiting from Chalmers’ depot west of Cemetery Rd in Francis St and heading east is breaking the curfew between the hours of 8pm and 6am Monday to Friday and between 2pm Saturday and 6am Monday. Any truck heading west along Francis St and crossing Cemetery Rd is also a curfew breaker. If you can get details (time, direction, licence plate, description) and use the form below to upload to us. We will forward to Vic Roads and have them prosecute the breach. A photograph is also good if you have your mobile phone handy.
It is time we demanded corporate responsibility from companies like Chalmers, which has ignored community health, safety, and amenity for too long.