TORONTO, Ont. — The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) held a meeting today to discuss Walmart’s new 60-ft. trailer and soon after, issued a statement outlying its many concerns.
The 60.5-ft. “supercube” trailer, introduced earlier this week, is slated to make its inaugural run next week, delivering product for Walmart. The company is seeking a permit from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to conduct a one-year test of the tractor-trailer unit, which consists of a cabover tractor and extra long trailer, which together don’t exceed Ontario length restrictions but increase capacity by 30%.
The trailer itself is 7.5-ft. longer than conventional 53-footers.
The OTA Board of Directors passed a motion stating: “The proposal to allow the longer trailers is not something the trucking industry has been advocating for or promoting. Therefore the proposal does not enjoy the support of the trucking industry that previous changes to Ontario’s allowable truck configurations did. (The move, for example, to 53-ft. trailers or the controlled used of LCVs). However, the association’s long-standing position is that it is not opposed to 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.
“Only carriers with acceptable safety records which are prepared to ensure the safety of their drivers should have access to special permits. As well, shippers need to show responsibility by using only carriers with acceptable safety records and which are prepared to ensure the safety of their drivers and vehicles.”
The current proposal, in OTA’s opinion, fails to satisfy the above criteria.
The association noted the permit, as proposed, would be issued to Walmart, but the OTA understands the trailers will be pulled by carriers not owned by Walmart.
Also, OTA contends the proposed permit conditions are too weak.
“They should directionally be similar to those established for the Ontario LCV program – ie., they should mandate a higher degree of carrier qualification than currently proposed; establish driver qualifications (the current proposal contains no such requirements); and, prescribe specific origins and destinations,” the OTA said.
“Our members are very uncomfortable with this proposal as it currently stands,” said OTA president David Bradley. “The proposed issuance of special permits to a shipper is a major game-changer for the industry; it completely turns the whole approach to monitoring and managing truck safety on its head. This must be changed. The industry is already heavily invested in the standard North American trailer of 53 feet; however, as an association we support innovation and a more productive economy where it makes sense.
“Right now, the Walmart semi-trailer would appear to mainly have application as a specialized trailer for dedicated runs, but if the floodgates are opened the consequences could be enormous. We need to set some strict criteria and ground rules before heading any further down the road.”