LCV drivers: Show them the money!

I’ve written quite favourably about Ontario’s LCV program and in doing so, I’ve invited some criticism from drivers and engaged in some interesting debates. As I see it, drivers stand to benefit from the program. Carriers have told me they pay 20-30% per-mile premiums for LCV drivers. Here’s an opportunity to take the training, get certified, enhance your value and make more money. For the motivated driver, what’s not to like about that? If only it were so simple.
In talking to several LCV-certified drivers, it seems there’s a significant discrepancy between what carriers say they pay their LCV drivers and what those drivers are actually making.
One such driver, Kassie Gibner, shares her experience: “Although it’s quite the experience to pull the LCVs, and the money that’s saved and made for the company is sizeable, typically it only pays three cents a mile more than running a single. Not even remotely worth it as a driver to take on the added responsibilities and extra work, only to be under such incredible scrutiny by everyone from the companies themselves to the OTA to the public.”
Worse yet, she tells me she’s at risk of losing her job because she’s the only LCV-certified driver at her company and she’s no longer willing to pull doubles for a measly three cents a mile extra. Jumping to another carrier that pays better may be an attractive option, but it’s now clear why a clause was cleverly tucked into the regulations that makes the LCV certification non-transferrable. She’d have to re-certify if she moved to another fleet.
At any rate, she’s not the only one who has told me the extra pay isn’t worth the added responsibility and scrutiny. Many drivers say that even with a small per-mile premium, pulling LCVs is a losing proposition when you factor in the reduced speed and extra time spent hooking up and inspecting equipment.
So where are the savings going and why aren’t drivers getting their fair share?
Some drivers tell me the big carriers are lining their pockets with the efficiencies afforded by pulling Twin-53s. I don’t buy that. I see very few carriers getting rich running LCVs. My suspicion is that the vast majority of the savings are being passed onto the shipper. But why?
Eric Gignac of Groupe Guilbault perhaps said it best at last year’s OTA convention: “Why should we give the savings to the customer? That’s what I’m hearing in Ontario and that scares me a lot. You need a shipper who gives you two truckloads at the same time at the same place with the same appointment time with equal weight. If you have that in Ontario, you’re lucky. We don’t have that in Quebec. You have savings but you also have extra costs – permits, paying more for the driver…”
Damn straight.
As an observer, I see quite clearly there’s something fundamentally wrong with this picture. More than anything else, the success of the Ontario LCV program hinges on the professionalism and abilities of the drivers. They are being touted as the elite, the cream of the crop. So treat them like they’re elite and pay them like they’re elite. Otherwise, there’s a very real possibility this program will fall flat.
In closing, if you’re the manager of a fleet that is participating in the LCV program and pay your LCV-certified drivers fairly, go ahead and tout your LCV pay packages by commenting below. Consider it a free ad on me (just don’t tell Kathy). Perhaps it’ll put some pressure on the others. In all seriousness, let’s get some dialogue going. Fleet managers, what do you pay your LCV drivers? Drivers, what are you being offered to pull Twin-53s?

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • “Worse yet, she tells me she’s at risk of losing her job because she’s the only LCV-certified driver at her company and she’s no longer willing to pulling doubles for a measly three cents a mile extra. Jumping to another carrier that pays better may be an attractive option, but it’s now clear why a clause was cleverly tucked into the regulations that makes the LCV certification non-transferrable. She’d have to re-certify if she moved to another fleet.”
    Could someone please tell me why the OTA has control of driver licensing in Ontario. An LCV endorsement should be part of your provincially issued license, the same as, for example, your “Z” endorsement. This clause was slipped into the legislation to minimize a driver’s ability to change jobs easily, much like the underlying reason for speed limiters.

  • James we appreciate this blog and yes we agree. We, as in, we are to be running team LCVs. We expected to make more as LCV drivers so we took all the courses and we are now certified for western Canada. Our company has proposed an 8 cents/mile premium split for teams with 1 1/4 hrly pay for hook + unhook, split of course.For us this a 16.3% increase per mile but a loss when you calculate the miles you could have drove in the hook + unhook time of approx $6.00/hr. So this means alot of what you gained /mile is then lost again. This doesn’t seem fair at all. Our company required us to meet all the conditions put forth to run LCVs in ON to qualify plus some of their own. We were told exactly that… you are the elite… cream of the crop…. pat yourselves on the back to be able to qualify for this program…. and now we are certified it almost like they are saying bend over…. What gives??? We were told that the freight for LCVs was company run not customer run and it was mentioned that there shouldn’t be any discount to the customer because of the extra work + logistics involved. We were also told there is an approx saving of 40% for the company while the doubles were on… So where is the 40% savings going?? How much of that should be passed to the drivers and how much should the customer get?? or the company keep for itself?? I guess only time will tell, but I can say this for sure…we weren’t expecting double the pay but we were expecting to be treated fairly which clearly is not happening. We think 30% increase is more in the ball park. We have heard from a team running out west that claim they are getting 69/mile plus hook time.If we were to receive that much it would be a 40% increase … Wow quite the difference in what some companies feel their expert drivers are worth. I really hope we see some companies post their rates…

  • In Alberta, home of the LCV… A driver must show a certificate that they have taken the LCV driver training course at time of hire.
    It is up to the company to issue a company card stating that they meet all the permit conditions for a driver.
    A LCV driver certificate
    PDIC course no older than 48 months
    Drivers abstract with no driving related criminal code convictions for 36 months, No more than 2 moving violations in the prior 12 months, no more than 3 moving violations in the last 36 months.
    A Driver must also be instructed on all permit conditions in the last 12 months.
    I’m thinking that is the intent of the Ontario clause, not to have the driver take the entire LCV driver training again. The driver is trained, but needs to know the company policies and permit requirements.
    As for pay… Let us not forget that the LCV (pike) drivers also make their money doing hooks and splits; not just base milage, depending on the company of course.
    Out west… most are making .48 to .50 per mile + hooks and splits.

  • In response to Say What? The rate of .48 to .50 per mile sounds great for a solo. Our company is proposing .45 for solo + .55 to .57 for team plus hook time @ $16.75/hr. On top of that we would normally get an extra .02/ premiun for over 10,000 miles in a pay period. That’s going to be pretty hard to get pulling LCV’s. That’s a far cry from the .69 the team at the other company is getting, which I might add is based out west. ON has even more restrictions for that much less pay?? Com’n give me a break….

  • In response to Jim, I absolutely agree that the LCV Qualification should be an endorsement on our licence, wouldn’t that be nice!lol However it seems to be considered more along the lines of our Dangerous Goods Cards, non transferable from one company to another. If our LCV qualification was an endorsement, think of the money that would be lost if it were attached to our licence and good for 5 years!! Although they can take our cards, they can’t take our experience. Being as the companies are the ones paying for us to be qualified, and we need to be re-qualified once a year anyhow….

  • OTA comments concerning LCV units reducing the number of trucks on the highway and reduced emissions because one tractor is pulling two long trailers are nonsense. They used the same argument to justify increasing truck gross weights. The reality is that anything that allows trucks to operate more efficiently will make trucks more competitive in the on going struggle with railroads for a greater market share of freight. The most noticeably manifestation of that competitive advantage will be seen with fewer trailers and containers on piggy back and more LCV on the road. The Ontario Government has again be hoodwinked by OTA BS. Drivers would be well advised to reject LCV jobs until companies start paying wages that reflect the extra work and responsibility such a job demands.

  • I have a couple things to say and I hope I don’t offend anyone too much. First, I have read somewhere that to be certified as a LCV driver in Ontario, the driver must “train” with an instructor for at least 1000km before getting the nod to drag 2 wagons down the 401, and after 10000km, you can apply to be an instructor for LCV drivers. This, to me, hardly qualifies anyone to claim that they are the “cream of the crop”!!! In my opinion, nobody should be certified for anything after that much of whatever it is that they do! I think that until you have a million miles successfully under your belt, you are in no position to “train” or instruct anyone to drive any trucks of any kind! Secondly, the right way to pay these people to pull 2 trailers and mess around hooking and dropping extra trailers is to pay them by the hour from the time they leave the yard until they are back in the yard. That would always be fair, if you travel slower with doubles, then there is your pay premium. If you hit bad weather and have to drop one trailer, then you would get paid to do it and then you would carry on with one trailer. If you have sevral drops or hooks or pickups, who would care, it would all add up. AND it would be fair!

  • No steve, the cream of the crop is just the qualifications you need to be able to apply to be an LCV driver. 5 yrs driving experience, no more than 2 moving violations in 12 months and 3 in 36 months, clean cvor, clean abstract, no criminal code conviction plus whatever other restrictions your company may add.. as in no prevevtable accidents in the last 2-3 years etc and maybe you even hsve to be employed with them for a certain amount of time before they will invest in the training for you….. that’s what is meant by the cream of the crop… as for anyone who can become an instructor after 1000kms is crazy… if that’s the case it needs to be changed cause everyone knows “those who can’t do it, teach it”

  • Just to clarify, an instructor must have *10,000* kms of verifiable LCV experience. They must also have: experience training adults; a valid OTA/QTA LCV driver certificate; first-time instructors must complete a OTA/QTA LCV Instructor course; existing western Canada instructors must take an Ontario LCV orientation course; and they must be recertified every three years and take a half-day refresher course.
    Those instructor requirements are pretty thorough, in my opinion.

  • Liner……I agree, which is why I am not pulling them. But it’s not that simple for everyone, I am fortunate enough to serve an incredible God and have a very supportive husband, so I can take a stand. Unfortunately many drivers aren’t in that position, many places give ‘ultimatums’ and many drivers opt for “a lesser paying job is better than chancing no job”. I understand the position drivers like that may be in, but nothing will change unless a ‘majority’ take a stand.

  • A story that seems so old news for anyone in the freight business in Western Canada for the past 30 years.
    Instead of trying invent another reason to fight why don’t Management and ON & PQ Professional Drivers look at the success of Western CDN Fleets who have several decades in operating and developing LCV’s.
    There is no question LCV’s reduce pollution, reduce the number of Professional Drivers needed to move the freight on LCV routes, reduce operating costs of the fleet, demand a high quality Professional Driver, and have been the safest configuration on Western CDA highways for decades.
    Any organization who trys to take advantage of Customers and/or Professional Drivers will likely learn early LCV’s are not a wind fall of profit for companies.
    A realistic balance is needed to compensate Fleets, Professional Drivers and Customers for their individual contribution in making LCV’s successful in PQ & ON.

  • Well-said, Roy. A lot can be learned from the western Canadian experience. Roy, was the issue of driver compensation a big one when they began running turnpikes out west?
    On another note, I was visiting Challenger Motor Freight this morning and decided to bring this issue up with Challenger president Dan Einwechter. Not to center an individual fleet out, I just happened to be there working on a story. Dan’s very bullish when it comes to the future potential of LCVs – he just bought 300 Stoughton trailers from Trailers Canada and every one of them has a pintle hook. He’ll have 300 more by the end of the year.
    Here’s what he had to say when I asked him about LCV driver compensation (he had already read this blog):
    “I know we’re at the higher end (of the industry range) and we know drivers have to make more money. This can’t be a shell game where we’re just moving numbers around. There’s more involved, more risk, more training, more time for hook-ups – and we’ve incporoated that into our structure.”
    But here’s the rub: “Drivers say they should get paid double, customers say rates should get cut in half because it’s only one truck. The bottom line is that it needs to make economic sense for all participants and that’s what a vibrant capitalistic market will do.”

  • I agree, well said Roy! I also agree with the President from Challenger… needs to make economic sense for all involved. Don’t get me wrong, as an LCV driver, I’d be thrilled to be paid DOUBLE my regular wage! But I think that is just as ludicrous and unrealistic as companies expecting to pay 3 cents a mile more than running a ‘single’. July 1st marks the end of the ‘pilot’ project, and with a perfect record to date for the LCV’s- NO violations and more important, NO accidents, the reality of widespread LCV’s in Ontario fleets is not far off. Companies will get what they pay for one way or another. Maybe a great driver that they’ve ‘convinced’ to run them for stupid money, in which case the possibility of a great driver doing an ok, ‘bare minimum’ job or a new, to the company, driver who is all gung-ho to have a new job n gives it their ‘all’, at first, but once they settle in and realize just how much ‘work’ is involved and everything that’s on their shoulders, I think companies will be very hard pressed to get through the season(9 mths) on one driver.

  • I haven’t heard a single driver anywhere say they should be getting paid double just paid fairly. I can see the shippers wanting half the rates though. And yes Roy we could learn a lot from the companies and structure of lcvs out west. I agree with everything you said.

  • Drivers are their own worst enemy!! I really don’t get it.Drivers are always complaining about not being paid enough money for the job,yet when the perfect opportunity comes up to increase their wages…what do they do….they buckle under and settle for less!!! Once again drivers would rather just bitch and complain about how their not being paid enough,rather than take a stand and just say NO.
    It’s so simple,LCV’s are new to Ontario so they need to train new drivers to operate them.If everyone refused to pull them for the rate offered,these LCV’s would not be running down the road!Drivers are told the rate before hand, so why even bother training to pull them if your not going to be happy with the rate of pay.

  • Thanks for your note James and also yours Kassie,
    When LCV’s first started in Western CDA it was mostly the unionized LTL fleets who pioneered them. (ie CF & Motorways)
    During those years Professional Drivers were paid by the number of axles they pulled, and that made paying a Professional Driver for pulling LCV’s a simple task of counting axles.
    Some fleets still use this system to pay for operating the bigger units.
    Currently most Professional Driver who pull LCV’s in Western CDA enjoy a wage benefit, but not a huge benefit.
    Personally I have been directly involved in spec’ing, operating and managing LCV’s for 35 years.
    Thanks for you time Everyone and have a safe and enjoyable weekend.

  • Why even go there on the rate of pay? Companies should be paying a fair flat rate for the trip. They know the distance involved for the trip and they all know how long it takes to build and then pre-trip the assembly. If there were legitimate delays along the route then those alone would be paid hourly with verifiable information on your trip sheet. I to get a minimal 3 cents per km/5 cents per mile difference for the trip and in the end due to the speed difference and subsequent longer travel time the hourly rate between a regular trip and an LCV trip works out to almost the same(about 10 cents difference for the LCV) except that I get an extra couple of hours for the build and break down.
    That being said, I would appreciate being paid a premium rate but in the end bragging rights also counts for a lot.

  • I dont really understand why the shipper is saving money with the LCV’s. If the freight is in two trailers they should pay for 2 trailers whether there are two trucks or not. It should benefit only the trucking company and the drivers. Freight is hauled and charged by the mile. The miles arent less because of LCV’s so why should the shipper pay less. Maybe they want to take it there themselves? I personally wouldnt do it just to be the “cream of the crop” Words dont pay the bills.

  • You are exactly right Drag n Fly. The right thing to do would be to use part of the savings from not running the second truck to pay the driver’s wages. For several years, everyone has been whining about the shortage of new drivers and the experienced drivers leaving this industry to do something else for a living. In my opinion’ there is no driver shortage, but instead, a shortage of pay for the drivers. Why would anyone drive truck when you can run a backhoe or a bulldozer for nearly twice the wages? Or, you could work at McDonalds or Wendys serving burgers for about the same wage as trucking and be at home every night. Also, I noticed that nobody has taken James’ offer to tout their LCV pay package on this blog and use it to attract would-be LCV drivers??! Maybe the wages are too high and they are afraid they will be flooded with calls if they post it here?

  • Challenger motor freight are propably not giving a shipper a break but are LCV are on courier load Purolator and Post Canada. these are rate as been nogociated few month ago these rate are flat and time sensitive and for these contract. Shipper dont care how the load gets there but as to get there so challenger as charged full rate and there team drivers that are hauling these LCV are getting a flat 2.96% raise on mileage getting 1.15 hour for hooking up inspection and every 2 hour equipement check. That means a team truck starting at .46 mile slip in 2 one driver makes .23 miles plus the 2.96% raise that is .08 slip in 2 one driver makes .27 mile. Its just a big rip off from companies to make a lot of money in this case a goverment contract cause we all now that these are. Drivers are not asking double pay like Dan Einwechter says but something is more appreciaded then 2.96%. With my calculation a CMF team truck makes .46 mile divided by = .23// .46+.23=.69 mile
    .69 mile is not to much to ask and this not double the pay a we see, and CMF is still making a profit on it this im shure of or else Dan Einwechter would’nt get in this deal of hauling LCV.

  • It is time we all stand together as owner/operators and get paid for what we do. We need especially the payroll it takes to run the business in longhaul and then we need to have a take home pay that is NOT LESS than minimum wage as we have been encountering for the last two years. Fair AND PROPER PAY for fuel surcharge should be order #1 to cover all the expenses; that we NEED to cover to keep the operation going. To work full time (and more) and have a small salary to take home is ludicris!! Only because big CORPS, keep most of the fuel surcharge, which should be passed onto the driver who pays the big fuel bills with all those government taxes as well!!

  • Come on LCV operating companies, spill your rates of driver pay for all to see! I think this blog would be a wonderful place to tell drivers how well you plan to pay them for dragging twin 53′ trailers and if you’re paying the right wages, you’ll have tons of experienced drivers banging on your door. Don’t be shy, you have nothing to hide….or do you?

  • Supply and demand dictates everything… its that simple. Several years ago I interviewedd a company who was paying $1.03 (for a driver who’s home was in Ontario) and $1.09 (for drivers who lived in the west). I asked why the difference. The recruiter simply said “we don’t need to pay more than $1.03 in Ontario because with that price we get all the drivers we want”. Simple supply and demand! That goes for contracts, driver pay, LCV, speed limters, EOBR’s, government stupidity… everything! People get away with it because ordinary citizens allow them! It’s sad but unless there is more exposure and knowledge released to the isolated individuals in the industry (along with a vile of boldness) it will continue indefinately! Rock on people!

  • Al I don’t know about you but, I have enough holes and seen enough of them in people’s feet in this business. If we as an industry do not stop SHOOTING OURSELVES IN THE FOOT, THEN who will stop and where will it stop.

  • So I did some checking on what companies are paying for LCV work. Kingsway driver told me he’s getting 44 cents per mile with a single and 51 cents for LCVs, about 18% more according to my math. He mentioned other Transforce companies like Epic are about the same. Hook ups are paid hourly but he gets a shunt man to help him. Purolator only has two permits at present but they pay the drivers $2 more per hour which is only about 8% more. I think something in the neighbourhood of a 20% bonus is a fair rate. I’m not surprised companies haven’t posted their rates because I have a feeling they’re paying a lot less than that. Like one driver told me last night, “Why bother busting your ass for $20 more per day.” I’m interested getting trained on LCVs because I want to add the skill to my repertoire, but I won’t work for $2 more per hour.

  • Thanks for checking, Harry. In fairness to companies that haven’t posted rates, I believe in many cases their LCV pay rates have simply not been pegged down yet. It’s a fluid situation and it will take some time before the market determines LCV driver pay rates. Drivers themselves will have a big hand in determining whether they get their share of the savings generated by hauling double-53s.

    • Don’t you think the safety of Lcv’s should be looked at again James ?? I noticed The Charter of Rights was talked about this morning with the language issue presently taking place in New Brunswick. What I don’t get James is that I have mentioned over and over that The Charter is being infringed on over section 7 with the security of people in regards of allowing a certain configuration of tractor trailers to park on shoulders of our highways. We make a language topic more of an interest than trying to prevent someone getting killed. I have a letter from the last Minister of Transport stating that NO trucks should park on shoulders due to the collision risk that they pose. Why do we have 37 exits set aside to accommodate the Lcv’s in NB.

  • By the way Wooler south on the eastbound 401 has been recently designated emergency parking for LCVs only. The signage isn’t very good and lately it’s been filling up with non-LCVs pulling over to sleep leaving no room for the big daddies. This morning a cop was parked behind an LCV blocking the exit, and the talk on the radio was that they were going to teach the 53 footers a lesson.

  • As with all driving jobs there is no legislative pay schedule for our industry. The spread of pay pulling singles could be up to 30% depending who you work for. If a company offers you 28 cents a mile and you accept it, that is your pay. If you want more ask for it or go to another company. Until a unified provincial or federally regulated pay structure is implemented, your rate of pay is based on the lowest figure we as drivers will accept, as long as there are enough drivers accepting the pay.
    Pay rates in this industry are like going to an auction, they pay whatever we will accept.

  • WRONG David! Implying government can regulate payrates better than supply and demand is suicide. Check out history, every time governement mandates pricing and wages it destroys the industry (check out the effects of rent control). Governement legislated pay (or intervention) strips human initiative and drive. Supply and demand works best when everyone participates in their own career developement. This forum is AWSOME for educating drivers and quality companies. We need MORE of this kind of dialogue in every form of media available. Too many drivers feel isolated, government beurocrats will not free up their careers… they will lock them up!

  • Here’s what I see on the road. The OTA wanted to be the only one to have it’s members in the pilot program. This way they could have more control ove the outcome of the numbers at the end. ( No infractions, No accidents,etc.) this would insure that the program was passed. Let’s look and see what happens AFTER the program is passed. The highway will be flooded with LCV’s (Look at all the units Challenger has purchased in preparation for this) you think the highways are fun now after the OTA’s speed limiters make it hard to pass each other? Wait til two of these units pass each other. Or try passing 2 of them. You think 4 wheelers hate us more now? You ain’t seen nothing yet. All I see it as being is another way to increase the OTA’s bottom line. Less truck purchases, less fuel, less maintenance cost, and less DRIVERS and benefits to pay fairly. Speed limiters and LCV’s. 2 OTA smoke screens where the OTA doesn’t tell the WHOLE story.


  • To be able to establish a great tracking business the company should be having skilful drivers. LVC programs have been a great help to produce LVC certified-drivers but there is an issue of discrepancy where these drivers are being taken advantage of. Hopefully these managers would be fair enough to give the proper incentives to these drivers.

  • A lot of whining here. I drive LCV in Alberta since 2008 and the main reason I do it is I enjoy hauling 2 – 53 ft. trailers or containers. I work for a great company that pays us well and has a great benefit program. Except when we arrive in a city, we are always on 4 lane highways so obstructing traffic is minimum at best. We are limited to 100kph here and if a truck decided to pass me going 2 or 3 kph faster, I back off until he or she has completed the pass. If I come up to a truck going 2 or 3 kph slower, I back off and stay behind. If you don’t enjoy your job, find something else to do. Life is too short to be miserable. I will be 71 in a few of months and I have cut back to 4 days but as long as I’m healthy, I love what I do. Peace.