‘Berta truckers look to save old trailers from scrapheap

CALGARY — The Alberta government is looking to phase out the use of older trailers in the province, but one lobby group is hoping to keep acceptable iron in service.

As the mandate currently stands, trailers manufactured before 1993 will have their GVW reduced by 1,000 kg per year for three years, beginning in January 2011. It’s a measure the government hopes will encourage owners to modify or replace their old trailers.

According to the Alberta Construction Trucking Association, there are still a number of these trailers that are still in good working order and reducing their payload puts operators in a tough spot. 

"A lot of these trailers and pups are in good working order and the government is putting the operators in a tough situation," says Ron Singer, president of ACTA, and owner of Ron Singer Truck Lines. "A lot of operators don’t know this is happening and they’ll be in a real negative situation because they can’t be competitive and their trailers are worth nothing."

A number of years ago, the province established a mandate to phase out the use of trailers manufactured prior to 1993. The decision was based on a study done in concert with the Road and Transportation Association of Canada (RTAC) back in the ’80s. 

The study analyzed weights and dimensions of trailers and found there wasn’t enough of a gap between axles, or they were too narrow. After 1992, all trailers were manufactured to a new standard.

For years these trailers were identified as RTAC and non-RTAC trailers, depending on their manufacturing date. RTAC eventually morphed into TAC and is no longer involved in weights and dimensions. The government now refers to these trailers as conforming and non-conforming.

As part of the mandate, trailers manufactured pre-’93 would be grandfathered into the new standard and the government put a 15-year window on their usefulness. The plan at the time was to reduce their allowable GVW beginning in January 2009.

In 2007, ACTA began lobbying the government to get the sunset date pushed back and the association earned a two-year grace period.

"It was identified that there were a fair number of these trailers still in service," Alvin Moroz, director of Transport Engineering, Weights and Dimensions for Commercial Trucks with Alberta Transportation, tells todaystrucking.com. 

"Rather than extend the sunset date, we extended the use of the trailers by permit, so we could identify how many were out there and where they were at," he adds.

As it turns out, there are still thousands of these trailers in service, which has prompted the government to take a closer look at the impact of the scheduled weight changes.

"We are in discussion to review the weight changes and with the recession, it could have a significant impact to owners of these trailers," says Moroz. "We are looking at going ahead, or deferring that date."

But ultimately, the government wants all of the non-conforming trailers modified or replaced, by conforming standards and trailers.

With enough support from owners of the non-conforming trailers however, ACTA is hoping to get the legislation rescinded all together.

"We don’t need to be buying new iron,"  Singer tells us. "There’s way too much out there already for the amount of work out there now."

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