Meeting with Canada’s Transport Minister
Recently, the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) was granted an in-person meeting with the office of the Federal Transport Minister in Ottawa. PMTC chairman Dennis Shantz, who is also fleet services manager for Home Hardware Stores and I, met with senior officials from the office of Marc Garneau.
The meeting was used as an opportunity, among other things, to formally introduce the PMTC to the relatively newly elected and appointed members of the Transport Minister’s office. We took this opportunity to ensure the Minster’s office was aware of what we considered some of the hot topics today, and the stance of the PMTC and its members on those issues.
Weights & dimensions
While we acknowledge the great work that has been done over the years by the Vehicle Weights and Dimensions working group through the CCMTA, which has made great strides in improving uniformity between the provinces and territories, much work still needs to be done. We are still waiting for uniformity in weight allowances for wide-base single tires right across the land. In some jurisdictions weight penalties are still applied which, in many cases, eliminates a fleet from being able to spec’ this option for cross-country travel.
Trailer tails are currently only allowed in two provinces. Tails and wide-base single tires are proven to increase fuel economy, which in turn reduces GHGs. We must allow fleets to take advantage of these options.
Six-by-two axles are also a hot topic and are handled differently in every jurisdiction, it seems. We are pleased that Transport Canada’s ecoTechnolgy for Vehicles Group has been assigned to study the benefits and issues this technology brings and to make recommendations after all studies are conducted. This is also a known fuel-saving technology, and as such we need to ensure the option is fully studied so a decision can be made as to what will be allowed on our highways and at what weights.
Another issue that we believe needs to be addressed is a long-term plan for a national long combination vehicle (LCV) standard. LCVs provide huge benefits as far as reducing fuel usage per trailer and in turn, GHG reductions. They also help in reducing congestion on our roadways and can help to tackle the expected driver shortage.
The US EPA is in the final stages of its consultations to set a final standard that will meet GHG emissions targets outlined by Congress. Transport Canada recently held its first consultation meeting with stakeholders in Toronto (PMTC is a stakeholder in this group).
The standards start in 2018 for trailers and 2021 for heavy-duty trucks, with further targets for 2024 and 2027. While we understand that Canadian standards will need to closely align with the US standards, we can’t stress enough that it cannot simply be a cookie-cutter approach. In Canada, we have increased weights and vehicle lengths when compared to the US’s 80,000-lb tandem-tandem national configuration.
We also have more extremes in weather and geography. As a result, Canadian fleets must have more options available to them when spec’ing vehicles in order to deal with these factors. We also must ensure the technologies that are needed to meet the proposed standards are ready for prime time. The industry simply can’t afford to deal with the unreliability that came with previous rounds of emission reduction technologies.
National highway funding
The PMTC believes the federal government needs to play a larger role in the design, funding, standards and implementation of a larger strategic plan that serves the best interests of the entire country, not just those of an individual jurisdiction. The lack of an ongoing funding model for our Trans-Canada routes can, more times than not, lead to a disjointed system that lacks uniformity. The provinces and feds must work more closely together and come up with an ongoing funding system.
MELT & skills trade designation
We brought the Minster’s office up to speed on the progress made on Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) in Ontario and in the US. We encouraged Transport Canada to get involved and work with all Canadian jurisdictions to institute MELT standards for commercial drivers across the land. We also raised the issue of the unskilled trade designation reducing funding opportunities and making it harder for the industry to attract new drivers to the industry. We encouraged the feds to change this designation to skilled.
ELDs & ESC
The PMTC has long been in support of the electronic logging device mandate, and was pleased with the feds’ recent announcement of future implementation. We encouraged Transport Canada to continue to work with the provinces and territories to have this mandate implemented. We also need to ensure the technical standards closely align with the standards that are expected to come into effect in the US in December 2017. The PMTC also congratulated the Minister’s office on its announced mandate of electronic stability control systems, and encouraged them to have this occur as soon as the next model year.
Mike Millian is president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, the only national association that represents the views and interests of the private fleet industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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