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Changes to RUC system on way

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Steven Joyce
Steven Joyce

Wellington, July 7 NZPA - The Government is making changes to road user charges (RUC) aimed to make them simpler but also see more people pay.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the changes were the biggest since the RUC system was introduced in 1978. The changes would reduce compliance costs but also cut into the estimated $30 million a year of fees evaded, Mr Joyce said.

"Currently honest payers of RUC are subsidising those who evade payment."

The reforms include:

? Changing the current system where heavy vehicle operators nominate a licence weight for RUC purposes to one where each vehicle will have its own permanent RUC weight. At the moment operators can nominate a weight every time they purchase a new RUC licence. Generally heavy RUC is purchased in 10,000km lots which would last an average operator a month;

? removal of the time licence system and modernisation of the list of vehicles exempted from road user charges.

Time licences are used by a small number of vehicles, such as road maintenance related heavy machinery, unregistered motor vehicles operated under trade plates and some tractors. The licences allow the vehicles on the road for a set period of time. Some vehicles are exempt from RUC -- farmers' tractors, forklifts and vehicles used for agricultural purposes. While they use the road occasionally their travel is assumed to be very limited.

There are also other changes to make it easier to comply and an improved regulatory framework for electronic management systems.

There is also a simpler and less costly structure in relation to offences and penalties, particularly for light vehicles.

A review of the RUC cost allocation model will be done before a new road user charges bill to be introduced to Parliament later this year

Changes already made included the requirement to give six weeks' notice of RUC increases and legislation enabling electronic distance recording and electronic display of RUC licences.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley welcomed the changes.

"The Government has clearly listened to the forum's case and recognised the inherent waste and inefficiency in the current RUC system."

"The forum will continue to work closely with Government on its review of the Ministry of Transport's cost allocation model, which is used to decide what proportion of roading costs the different types of vehicles should meet. The road transport industry fully accepts that it must meet the costs it imposes on the roading network, but this review is needed to ensure that all road users are paying their fair share of these costs."

He said the changes would go a long way toward satisfying concerns that came to a head in the July 2008 national truck protest.

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