Bradley wraps up the year and looks to 2010

TORONTO — This past year has been a tough year for most in the Ontario trucking industry.

The province’s economy, which was shedding freight volume as far back as 2007 – especially southbound US freight – went into free-fall in the wake of the devastation laid upon global financial markets last fall and winter.

“While it was a struggle, most OTA members have weathered the storm,” said David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association. “Costs have been cut to the bone. Companies restructured. Carriers should be positioning themselves to take advantage of the turnaround when it comes.”

Bradley’s words were part of the 83rd annual convention of the OTA held Nov. 19 in Toronto.

There has, according to the OTA Quarterly Business e-Pulse Survey, been a marked shift in carrier sentiment compared to the beginning of 2009. The optimists clearly outnumber the pessimists now.

“However, we are not out of the woods yet,” added Bradley. “While there has been some improvement in volume, the outlook is still shaky, confidence fragile. While a majority of carriers say we have seen the bottom, a large proportion, remain unsure about where things are headed.

“For much of the past year, the trucking industry suffered from over-capacity. Carrier efforts to shed capacity were outpaced by declines in volume. Predictably this had a devastating impact on freight rates. In 2010, supply and demand should be in better balance, setting the stage for rate adjustments. At the moment there still appears to be lingering downward pressure on rates.”

Aside from the economy’s performance, the OTA can point to a number of policies and initiatives that came to fruition in 2009 after working in cooperation with other stakeholders and with the Government of Ontario.

Some of which include:

The Ontario speed limiter law, which OTA initiated, came into force during the year.
The Ontario LCV pilot started in earnest in August. At the time of writing nearly half of the available permits had been issued and carriers have logged over 2,000 LCV trips and a half million kilometres of travel without incident.
The association also played a pivotal role in Ontario’s decision to increase the allowable weights on fuel efficient wide-base single tires.
OTA saw its efforts of the last several years rewarded when it was announced that the Ontario and federal governments had struck a deal to harmonize the provincial sales tax with the GST by July 1, 2010.
OTA also helped MTO develop a new program which helps fund investment in auxiliary power units and in reaching a more or less reasonable accommodation with the province in terms of the new legislation banning the use of handheld cell phones and other in-cab technologies.

“2010 promises to be another challenging year — for the Ontario trucking industry and for OTA,” said Bradley. “Progress is being made on a long list of other policy issues which I am hopeful will come to fruition over the course of 2010 such as the re-testing of truck drivers over 65 and a new entrant (carrier) program. By maintaining the highest levels of service and by continuing to achieve results for the members, we will ensure that OTA continues to be worthy of your support.”

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