Mail Bag (March 01, 2007)

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Limited plan for EOBRs a “joke”

Just read your Viewpoint column in the January/February issue “Is the FMCSA’s limited plan for EOBRs really the best approach?” Thank you! You have said just as I feel. In my opinion the proposal is a joke. It will not have a positive impact on safety. Further, I agree that the practice of abuse of our industry by the shippers/receivers needs to be addressed and EOBRs could have helped.

Thanks for the good read.

Chris Harris CRM, CDS

Senior Safety Services Representative

Old Republic Insurance Company of Canada

Isn’t our entire market a niche?

Your online editorial “Trust me: Transportation industry consolidation will continue despite Ottawa’s legislation”, regarding the continued long-term growth of income funds despite Ottawa’s new legislation was interesting but I would much prefer to get some thoughts on this industry 12 to 24 months out. Besides, I thought the entire Canadian market was a niche market? Am I missing something?

Nigel T. Griffiths

I believe niche operators will continue to have a place in the Canadian marketplace but I think the long-term trend will be towards increased industry consolidation that will create much larger trucking companies than we currently have. These companies will be capable of offering more sophisticated services serving the entire supply chain. They will also provide services and form relationships with shippers that extend beyond the continent. And they will be true transportation companies, going beyond modal barriers to provide services by whichever mode makes the most sense for the shipper. See our January/February issue to read how six of Canada’s top trucking CEOs envision the industry evolving by the year 2032, twenty-five years into the future. – Editor

Arguments on HoS fall short, reader charges

Regarding your online column “Let’s ‘collaborate.’ We’ve got time!”, about Alberta’s decision to back away from having the province mirror the new federal rules of Hours of Service due out at the start of the New Year, I understand your sarcasm directed towards Ty Lund, Alberta’s minister of infrastructure and transportation. However your arguments fail on several points.

First, your reference to the publication of the Hours of Service regulations 2 years ago. Although this is true, few owner/operators or small companies (such as ourselves) had the time to profoundly study the impact of these new regulations. Every year experienced drivers choose to retire or quit driving, and replacements are difficult to find (see your own publications’ want ads).

Another issue the trucking industry has faced is the rising cost of fuel. It seems that at every turn it is the trucker who must absorb the increased operational costs. Manufacturers and large corporations are always pressuring the rates down, and now the driver faces another challenge on long-haul runs – the new Hours of Service. We operate in Northeastern Ontario and have several runs per week to Alberta. It is impossible to run on the new 70-hour cycle – 14 hour on duty day. The driver has to re-set his cycle away from home. Loss of home-time creates tension and job dissatisfaction, which in turn complicates the recruitment efforts for new drivers.

I realize the governments in question are self-serving and will fold to any misconception thrown at them (by lobbyists), such as driver fatigue causing a high percentage of accidents. Generally speaking, it is the private vehicle owner who “cuts” or moves in and out of traffic without consequence that is the root cause of accidents. Those professional drivers who choose to “cheat” will do so regardless of the law – until they are apprehended and rightfully suspended. The majority of drivers are professional and true to their past legend of being “knights of the road”.

The governments are waging that the truckers are uneducated, unable to unite into one strong lobbying voice (like other unions working for the government) and have a blue collar mentality. They know the truckers will “roll” with whatever challenge it imposes on them. I pray that the federal transport minister as well as the provincial ministers of transport will review and amend the new Hours of Service Regulations for commercial drivers to include the interests of the drivers themselves. At the very least mirror our Hours of Service to those of the US.

Michel N. Racine

Operations & marketing manager

Foreshew Trucking

Where do transportation taxes really end up?

Regarding the comments made in your article by Tom AppaRao, director of transportation planning for the region of Peel, about the obstacles to good transportation decision making. All of AppaRao’s points seem reasonable except for the one on funding. Where are the taxes collected by several levels of government going? I’m quite sure that Ontario must collect by far the highest amount. I’m also very certain that that amount is quite substantial and that were it put to use in the province in which it was collected, for the purpose that the people who pay those taxes would assume it was for, Ontario would have an amazing transportation infrastructure. Unfortunately, it is primarly taken out of the province (at least the federal portion) and used elsewhere.

Joe Pollard

Cowan Group

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