PICKERING, Ont. — OTA chief David Bradley took the trucking industry’s message to the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade during a keynote address yesterday.
Bradley told the assembled business folk that trucking is a leading indicator of economic prosperity, and added “the best I can say at this point is the prevailing view of most carriers is that we appear to have hit bottom for the time being.”
He said shippers that are enjoying low rates now should not expect them to continue as the industry continues to shed capacity. Despite trucking layoffs and bankruptcies, he told the gathering that “the shrinkage in the volume of freight has outpaced our ability to shrink the fleet” and that there are already signs of an impending capacity shortage in certain lanes.
Despite the trucking industry’s hardships, Bradley said he remains “bullish” on the industry’s overall outlook. He said carriers are more sophisticated today and better able to weather economic downturns.
Bradley also addressed truck safety to the group, which included representation from the local trucking industry with a large contingent of Shandex and Mackie Group executives on-hand. Unlike any other industry, the trucking industry shares its workplace with the public, and “when we screw up, it can be front page,” he pointed out. That’s why the association endorsed speed limiters, which Bradley said so far have been improving the flow of traffic according to anecdotal reports he’s received.
While he admitted not all drivers approved of Ontario’s controversial speed limiter law, he said “the reality is there’s no reason, in our view, for a driver to be coerced or forced to speed to make a delivery.”
Bradley also spoke of the association’s wish for mandatory electronic on-board recorders, admitting “the paper-based logbook system is a joke.” This is another controversial issue, he admitted, however he said drivers who are opposed to EOBRs should realize “every time somebody cheats, you’re giving your service away to the shipper for free.”
Bradley explained some of the details of Ontario’s long combination vehicle (LCV) pilot project to the business group, and said about 18 LCVs are currently operating in Ontario. That number will likely reach the pilot’s capacity of 100 by the end of the project and “once that pilot is over, I hope to see many more on the highways.”
The harmonized sales tax was another item Bradley addressed, thanking the Board of Trade for its support of the initiative through its connections with the provincial Chamber of Commerce.
Finally, Bradley addressed one of his favourite (or maybe most frustrating) topics – the Canada/US border. He got a rise from the audience when he pointed out a truck encounters 16 stoplights between Toronto and Miami – 15 of which are in Windsor. “It’s a national embarrassment,” he said.
He also complained of misguided attempts to improve border security at the expense of the industry and the economy, and joked cross-border truckers today must carry a George Costanza-sized wallet to house all their security cards. Bradley’s presentation was well-received by the business audience and some of his comments were posted by Truck News editor James Menzies via Twitter immediately following the event. For live reports from the field, follow Menzies on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jamesmenzies.
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