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AMTA scraps PIC program

CALGARY, Alta. - The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) has scrapped the Partners in Compliance (PIC) program, but some participating carriers are hoping to save it.PIC was a partnership betwe...


CALGARY, Alta. – The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) has scrapped the Partners in Compliance (PIC) program, but some participating carriers are hoping to save it.

PIC was a partnership between Alberta carriers and the province’s transportation ministry that provided incentives for fleets that self-audited themselves and complied with a strict safety regime.

But there was never enough incentive to make the program worthwhile for many carriers, and the association recently returned a check for $85,000 to Alberta Transportation and informed the department it would no longer administer the program, AMTA executive director, Kim Royal says.

“We thought the program had great value but unfortunately, after eight years, we were not successful in creating any benefits that would encourage participation,” says Royal.

“Unless there was a carrot, it was very hard to get anybody to participate.”

Only about 19 carriers participated in the program, and Royal says that number remained static over the eight years the PIC program was in place.

If more benefits were available to PIC-compliant carriers, he says the AMTA would have continued administering the program.

“We were looking for something that would be a perceived material benefit for a carrier that would give them incentive to enter into the program and go through the process of reporting on a monthly basis on the benchmarks that were agreed to by PIC,” said Royal.

Those carriers that did take part were successful in proving the program had merit, Royal adds.

“The carriers that were in the program were able to prove over the eight years that they were the safest carriers on the road. Their statistics were much, much better than the industry average. Unfortunately, a lot of people believe they’re good carriers and didn’t feel they needed to prove it to somebody else and to a certain extent, I guess I have to agree with them.”

The majority of the carriers who took part in the PIC program were satisfied with the decision to dissolve the partnership, Royal says. One such carrier is Trimac – a company that was instrumental in getting the program launched.

Barry Davy, senior vice-president with Trimac, says killing the program was a necessary evil.

“It just didn’t get to where it should have been for a variety of reasons. It wasn’t going anywhere and the status quo was not acceptable. You don’t want to be associated with something that’s not going to go anywhere,” Davy said.

The results of PIC spoke for themselves, but there wasn’t enough participation on the government’s end to justify continuing with the program, Davy says.

“The concept is absolutely infallible. At the end of the day the results say PIC not only brought together a whole bunch of carriers that were better than the national average by a wide margin but they were also carriers that produced results.”

For that very reason, Boychuk Transport, another founder of PIC is not pleased with the AMTA’s decision to abandon the program.

“We were extremely disappointed when we heard the AMTA had withdrawn their support for the program and returned the funding that was provided by the government,” says Al Smythe, a management consultant with Boychuk. “Our issue was with respect to the fact that this was a decision that was apparently made by the board-of-directors of the AMTA without any consultation with the carriers. It’s our position that if that decision was going to be made, it should have been made in consultation with the participating carriers.”

Alberta Transportation has invested a lot of money into the program over the past eight years, and it was inconsiderate of the AMTA to end the program so abruptly, Smythe says, adding Boychuk is now hoping PIC carriers will work directly with the province to keep the program alive, with or without the AMTA’s support.

“I think the PIC program will continue and I hope it will but whether or not the AMTA will be involved in it, I don’t know,” Smythe says.

“Alberta Transportation has certainly indicated that they’re interested in continuing with the program.”

Smythe agrees with the assessment that the program has gotten stale in recent years, but he calls it an “injustice” to walk away from the program at this point in time.

When PIC was first launched in 1995, Alberta Transportation summarized the program this way: “Carriers who join the PIC program commit to a high level of compliance with benchmark criteria, monitor their own operations, submit reports on a monthly basis, and agree to random vehicle inspections. This allows government resources to be redirected and focused on those carriers who choose not to comply with regulations and require greater enforcement.”

The benefits touted when the program was first launched included: expedited service at vehicle inspection stations and roadside inspections; exemptions from a number of audits including Traffic Safety Services audits, Transportation of Dangerous Goods audits and International Registration Plan audits.

They were also eligible for special prorated annual vehicle renewals.

Participating carriers say the only real benefit was expedited service at inspection stations but even that had suffered in recent years.

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