MILTON, Ont. – Walmart Canada has raised eyebrows with the introduction of its “supercube” trailer which increases capacity almost 30% and extends the length of a dry van from 53-ft. to 60.5-ft. Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation has issued special permits for four trailers and two tractors. Although the program is still in its pilot stage, this innovative design could change the nature of trucking in Ontario and beyond. Truck News went to the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Milton to ask drivers their opinion of the new “supercube” design.
Ron Cousins drives for Bestway Cartage of Mississauga, Ont. He suggests that most drivers can’t handle 53-ft. trailers, let alone 60-footers.
“You watch some of these guys driving today running over curbs while going around corners and this is seven feet longer. There’s also more responsibility that goes with the extra length. I didn’t like 53s when they brought them in because they didn’t pay us any more, and the same thing will happen with these. What are they willing to pay, three cents more per mile?”
Eric Bernard is a newly-minted tractor-trailer driver with Bourassa Transport out of St-Jean-de-Richelieu, Que. He’s excited by this new configuration and can’t wait to pull one.
“It looks very long to me. But the industry has to try something like this. I’m new to the job but I want to try driving all this stuff including long trains (LCVs). I’ve only been driving five months but I don’t have a problem with a 53-ft. trailer. For sure I want to try this. And if Walmart is saving money shipping this way then they should also pay the drivers more.”
George McGee, a veteran driver with Highland Transport out of Markham Ont., sees interesting possibilities with the supercube idea.
“This might be alright if we can keep it in Canada, I don’t know what they’re going to do south of the border and east of the Mississippi. But if they’re going in and out of Walmarts in these giant malls, and if they keep them on certain routes, I think it will work out alright. I’d pull them, probably for a nickel more a mile. This wouldn’t be bad, guys will get used to them. We all know aerodynamics is important and this kind of thing is the future.”
Dan Trojan, a driver for Canamex-Carbra Transport Services in Brampton, Ont., is cautiously optimistic about Walmart’s initiative. “It looks pretty,” he says, “but what they’re doing is making one guy do more work. My concern isn’t about the size of the truck, it’s about how the driver is going to get compensated. The problem is that Walmart will probably want to pay carriers the same rate as for a 53-ft. trailer and as a result, the driver won’t be paid much more,” he says.
“Governmental agencies have to look at the situation and how these trailers operate and put in regulations to control them. I can see this working out for companies and drivers if everyone gets a fair share of the pie.”
Ron Davis, a company driver for Stewart’s Transfer of Perth, N.B., thinks that the highways aren’t ready for 60-ft. trailers.
“About a year ago we heard rumours about 57-ft. trailers coming into the industry, but I don’t think we’re ready for 60 feet yet. It’s too much for the highway in my opinion,” he says.
“Where are you going to put something like that in a truck stop? The infrastructure isn’t ready for it and neither is the public. I’ve hauled B-trains and enjoyed the work, but it’s hard enough to get a 53-ft. trailer into some places. Even getting into some Walmarts can be difficult. I don’t know how you get something that long turned around without ripping everything to pieces.”