Support for GVM limit increase

The Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) has welcomed the support of two state ministers in its effort to make bus Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) limit laws uniform nationwide for all bus axle groups.

New South Wales (NSW) minister for roads Duncan Gay and Queensland minister for transport Stirling Hinchliffe have appealed to Federal minister for urban development Paul Fletcher to support mass increases for two and three axle buses, including double-decker and articulated buses nationwide.

The state ministers have asker Fletcher to write to National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) CEO Sal Petroccitto to support uniform GVM limit laws for all bus axle groups as a matter of urgency.

The GVM increased from 16 to 18 tonnes in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria in August this year. The two-axle GVM limit was raised to reflect the average weight of Australians, which is 80kgs now, rather than the 65kgs that average passenger capacities were previously based on.

BIC executive director Michael Apps says he is pleased about the current push to have heavy vehicle laws brought up to date.

"Now that the ministers from two major states have shown their support for this, BIC is hopeful that it will happen in a reasonably timely manner," he says.

"We have been calling for this for more than a decade, so we are very pleased that these ministers are taking notice.

"What have in place currently are different arrangements for different states and this is obviously not a desirable.

"We need to have a nationally consistent approach. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator also wants consistency from state to state and it does its best in hard circumstances, in an environment where you have roads that are managed by local councils."

At the higher mass limits, buses can operate on all roads in Victoria and NSW. However, some Queensland councils have placed limitations on where the buses can travel.

While the GVM limit has increased, there has been no change to how passenger capacity is calculated, which remains unchanged in Australian Design Rules (ADR).

"The notice has increased the mass limits from 16 tonnes to 18 tonnes, but has not imposed any requirement to retain existing passenger capacity," Apps explains.

Apps adds the limits imposed on other bus axle groups should be raised so all buses are covered.

"We want all the bus axle groups to have their mass increased. We want to be operating legally 100 per cent of the time."

Certain conditions also apply in order for buses to operate at the higher mass limits in Queensland and NSW, but no conditions apply in Victoria, which is also something that BIC says needs to be addressed.

"It’s critical that we ensure current passenger capacity is not increased and that operators and manufacturers do not take advantage of the current situation in Victoria."

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