TORONTO, Ont. -- Walmart Canada’s controversial ‘supercube’ configuration, consisting of a cabover tractor with dromedary box pulling a 60.5-ft. drop-deck semi-trailer will operate under revised permit conditions that reflect the concerns raised by the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA).
The 18-month trial will allow five qualified carriers to operate the new configurations, with each receiving four permits.
The OTA had voiced concerns about the initial permit conditions, which seemed to grant the permits to Walmart itself rather than the CVOR-holding carrier that would operate the equipment. The association says the revised permit conditions “reflect most of the recommendations put forward by OTA in recent weeks.”
“While for the most part the trucking industry would prefer to not have to deal with the whole question of extended length trailers, the association’s long-standing position is that it will not stand in the way of changes to Ontario’s truck weights and dimensions standards that would enhance the productivity of the industry, its customers or the provincial economy at large -- so long as the proposed vehicles maintain or enhance highway/road safety; meet or exceed provincial dynamic performance standards; produce environmental benefits such as reduced GHG emissions; and allow for a sufficient return on investment,” said OTA president David Bradley. “In addition, OTA has also long held that only carriers with acceptable safety records – those who are prepared to ensure the safety of their fleets and their drivers - should have access to such special permits.”
Revisions to the permit conditions include:
* Stricter conditions, requiring the carrier to have been in the trucking business for at least five years and to hold a minimum of $5 million in liability insurance;
* Increased qualification requirements for drivers, to account for the configuration’s “swing-out” characteristics. Drivers will need to have five years of provable tractor-trailer driving experience and will require additional training;
* Specified origins and destinations.
The OTA also appealed to the province for a gradual phase-in of the number of operators and permits available, given the heavy investment the industry has already made in the industry-standard 53-ft. trailer. The revised permit reads: “based on the results of the (trial) evaluation, MTO will determine whether to and how to proceed with a measured roll-out of extended semi-trailer operations.”
The OTA is now more receptive to the supercube concept.
“It is clear that what we are now talking about is a very small, tightly controlled trial of a specific trailer design, not a wide open roll-out of a new, longer trailer standard,” Bradley said.
The full permit conditions can be found here.
The new restrictions don't appear to address the fact the tractor is powered by an EPA02 engine within a Freightliner Argosy body. For more on that issue, you can read our opinion piece on why the configuration may not be as environmentally-friendly as it’s being presented here.