We regret to announce that MTAG has withdrawn from the Smart Freight Partnership – Inner West (SFPIW).
The SFPIW was developed over an 18 month period between MTAG and the VTA (Victorian Transport Association). The initiative aimed to lessen the impact of trucks on residents while providing incentives for freight operators with modern cleaner operating trucks. It contained a number of Australian first initiatives, including the establishment of an Environmental Freight Zone and two-tiered curfews designed to incentivise cleaner trucks on five key freight routes in the City of Maribyrnong.
Negotiations for implementation of the SFPIW took place over a number of meetings this year – involving representatives from MTAG, the VTA, Freight Victoria, VicRoads and Maribyrnong Council, representatives from Minister Jaala Pulford’s office and Minister Melissa Horne. At the final meeting at Maribyrnong Town Hall we were told the SFPIW was being fully implemented. We were advised that this would include:
- Two tiered curfews on all five freight routes in the City of Maribyrnong – Francis St, Somerville Rd, Buckley St, Williamstown Rd and Moore St.
- A speed reduction to 50km/h on Moore St, Williamstown Rd, Francis St and Buckley St.
- Driver training in community appreciation
- Conspicuity tape to improve visibility of dangerous goods vehicles
- Road works to to improve safety at a number of intersections and danger hot spots across the City of Maribyrnong.
However, when the Government announced the SFPIW in July, the curfews on Williamstown Rd and Buckley St were omitted. There was also no written document provided and we were unclear exactly what the package was or the timeline for implementation.
We were promised a quick resolution, assured that it would get sorted out. Media interviews came and went and we focussed on the positive side of things. The 50km/h speed limits were introduced and we were assured that curfews were not off the table, VicRoads just needed a bit more time to undertake traffic modelling. This was a bit hard to swallow knowing that VicRoads had had this initiative on their desks for 18 months, nevertheless we waited. And waited.
At first, senior executives from Minister Pulford’s office kept us in the loop and assured us they were working hard to resolve this. However slowly they went silent and our emails and requests for meetings went unanswered.
These curfews were critical to the SFPIW. Without curfews on all five streets, plans to incentivise cleaner trucks will not only fail, but will actually make the situation worse for thousands of residents. Not only would the trucks concentrate on those two streets, having a detrimental impact on those residents, there would also be an increased risk of trucks crashing into the Napier St Bridge. Pulling out was not an easy decision for us but ultimately we decided that MTAG could no longer have its name associated with such a flawed plan.
We regret this lost opportunity to work with the freight industry and Government to implement an Australia first initiative and the most comprehensive plan ever put on the table to deal with the truck issue in the City of Maribyrnong. We are proud of the initiative we put to Government and we thank the VTA, in particular CEO Peter Anderson, for the many hours spent with us in respectful negotiations.
Sadly we will continue to have the oldest trucks in the developed world using our streets with no programs or incentives to change the situation. The collapse of the initiative was reported on in The Age.
Unfortunately, the SFPIW is not the only unresolved issue with this Government:
- The Millers and Williamtown Rd Corridor Study has seemingly died with no notification or communication from anyone. This consultation truly was a farce, with two conflicting Terms of Reference and a seeming focus on bringing the community together to help figure out ways to double the truck numbers on both of these streets. There has been no communication from VicRoads about where things are at with this study and our correspondence is being ignored.
- There are still regular life endangering Napier St Bridge truck crashes. The safety warning lights are clearly inadequate. We speak to almost all of the truck drivers who hit the bridge who tell us they saw none of the warning lights.
The ball is now firmly in the Andrews Labor Government’s court.
Will they resurrect the Corridor Study, having learnt the lessons of how NOT to run community consultation, and work to resolve the issues on Millers and Williamstown Rd once the West Gate Tunnel opens?
Will they resurrect what they can from the SFPIW, and at least implement the much needed road remediation works?
Will they implement at the Napier St Bridge a similar warning system to what is at the Montague St Bridge, that has successfully managed to dramatically cut bridge crashes?
Will they find another way to incentivise cleaner trucks?
We will wait and see…