Clear Shot: Out With the Old?

by Ingrid Phaneuf

In case you haven’t already figured it out, this month’s issue is dedicated to outlining just what we have to expect and/or fear in 2004.

On the upside, there’s a good chance for meaningful rate increases.

The industry will finally be arguing for rate increases from a position of strength because of the anticipated shortage of capacity caused, in part, by the drop in productivity created by the new hours of service rules south and north of the border as well as increased border security.

On the downside, there’s a possible further squeezing of trucking company profits, if shippers balk at paying for things such as excessive wait times at docks and delays at the border.

You see where I’m going with this?

In other words, the first few months of this year are going to determine just how we benefit or suffer from the fallout of all the rules and regulations that are coming down the pipe.

Smart carriers and O/Os will take the opportunity to show their customers just how much waiting at the border, docks, etc. is costing them and if they want to stay in business they’ll either reduce costs or increase rates.

Those who don’t will go the way of the Old Man 2003.

When the dust settles it will be interesting to see just who survived.

But in the meantime, here’s my wish list for the New Year:

1) That U.S. Congress finally realizes the error of its ways and extends the deadlines for full-on enforcement of advance electronic cargo reporting to both Customs and the Food and Drug Administration until better reporting systems are tested and established. After all, Canada can only just managed to get its Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) up and running for truck manifests by 2008!

2) That engine manufacturers get their wish and satisfy the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by establishing enforcement strategies and distribution networks for urea throughout North America, as well as working out the kinks when it comes to the stuff freezing at low temperatures.

3) That Canada’s hours of service regulations be amended to include a split sleeper berth exception.

4) That shippers and receivers become more respectful of O/Os and drivers and work hard at reducing wait times at docks.

5) That fleets, small and large, reach a consensus on charging for the extras (like wait times) and uniformly do so for the good of the entire industry and for their own good as well.

6) That drivers and O/Os see any rate increase or charges reflected on the bottom lines of their own paycheques.

7) That Canadian cows be allowed back into the U.S.

That’s just about does it for me, though I’m sure there are plenty of other wishes out there that should also be on this list.

If so, please feel free to add them in yourself, preferably in a Letter to the Editor.

Happy New Year.

– Ingrid Phaneuf can be reached at 416-442-2091 or at

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