Road funding reform

FY16 SUMMARY

  • Progressed our Road Usage Study, testing Australian motorists’ attitudes, preferences and responses to various user-pays road funding options as potential sustainable, fair and flexible alternatives to the existing revenue sources including fuel excise, registration and licensing fees and other charges. Final report due to be released in October 2016
  • Continued dialogue with government and industry stakeholders to support and build momentum for longer-term reform considerations

Electric, connected and autonomous vehicles and ride sharing are among the many transport innovations poised to enter the mainstream in the coming decade, all of which will fundamentally change the way we travel. This new wave of transport technology promises opportunities for more effi¬cient and safer mobility, significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, large-scale transport service integration and improved options for the disadvantaged. Significantly, it also provides a tipping point for changing how we fund transport.

Our growing population and progressive urbanisation are challenging our transport system. Simultaneously, our ageing population is increasing demand on health, aged-care and other services, further stretching government budgets across a broad range of service provisions including infrastructure.

Vehicle manufacturers have continued to make progress towards a more sustainable future by improving the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles and, in more recent times, introducing hybrid and electric vehicles. This important and commendable forward thinking will help protect the future of our environment, but at the same time, highlights the imminent expiry of Australia’s current fuel-sale-based funding stream. How we fund road infrastructure must be central to discussions about Australia’s transport future as this underpins many of the technology-based services to come.

A proactive and holistic approach that systematically addresses future opportunities and challenges is crucial to finding effective and sustainable solutions for supporting Australia’s growth and liveability.

Transurban’s Connected Cities website provides information and updates through the year on how Transurban is contributing to this important issue. In FY16, Transurban continued to contribute to the public conversation on road policy reform, including a number of public presentations and submissions.

Road usage study

At Transurban, we constantly look for innovative transport solutions to improve the efficiency of our networks and ultimately the liveability of our cities. Traffic congestion on our networks hinders our ability to deliver on our value proposition for our customers, government partners, investors and the broader community.

We live and work in major cities and, like everyone else in the community, we desire the best quality of life possible. Efficient transport networks are central to that proposition.

To contribute to understanding of and preparations for the technology, social and policy disruptions likely to impact our sector and the communities we serve, Transurban undertook Australia’s first practical study to examine how drivers would respond to a transparent road usage system as an alternative to the current system of opaque fees and charges.

The study captured the responses of 1,635 motorists from the Greater Melbourne region to five user-pays charging options and was designed to meet three objectives:

  • To gauge motorists’ knowledge and understanding of our current road funding system and assess their attitudes and preferences toward user-pays charging options
  • To understand motorists’ behavioural responses to different charging and implementation options
  • To prove that technology is no longer a barrier to implementing a practical user-pays system

An initial findings report, capturing insights to-date from the first stage of testing focused on usage-based charging models, was released in September 2016. The Final report is due to be released in October 2016.