Changes Needed to Walmart Semi-trailer Permit, says Bradley

TORONTO — The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) would like to see some changes made in regards to the permit that Walmart Canada is seeking the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to conduct a one-year trial of a “super-cube” tractor-trailer unit that includes a semi-trailer of 60’ 6” in length.

“Our members are very uncomfortable with this proposal as it currently stands,” said OTA president David Bradley. “The proposed issuance of special permits to a shipper is a major game-changer for the industry; it completely turns the whole approach to monitoring and managing truck safety on its head. This must be changed.”

“The industry is already heavily invested in the standard North American trailer of 53 feet; however, as an association we support innovation and a more productive economy where it makes sense.”

“Right now, the Walmart semi-trailer would appear to mainly have application as a specialized trailer for dedicated runs, but if the floodgates are opened, the consequences could be enormous. We need to set some strict criteria and ground rules before heading any further down the road,” he said.

This from the OTA:

1. The proposal to allow the longer trailers is not something the trucking industry has been advocating for or promoting. Therefore the proposal does not enjoy the support of the trucking industry that previous changes to Ontario’s allowable truck configurations did. (The move, for example, to 53’ ft trailers or the controlled used of LCVs).

However,

2. The association’s long-standing position is that it is not opposed to changes to Ontario’s truck weights and dimensions standards that would enhance the productivity of the industry, its customers or the provincial economy at large so long as the proposed vehicles maintain or enhance highway/road safety; meet or exceed provincial dynamic performance standards; produce environmental benefits such as reduced GHG emissions; and allow for a sufficient return on investment.

3. Only carriers with acceptable safety records which are prepared to ensure the safety of their drivers should have access to special permits. As well, shippers need to show responsibility by using only carriers with acceptable safety records and which are prepared to ensure the safety of their drivers and vehicles.

The introduction of the proposed extended length semi-trailers in Ontario must satisfy these conditions. In OTA’s opinion the current proposal falls well short:

4. There can only be real control and oversight of and adherence to the permit conditions if the permit is held by the entity in care and control of the vehicle – i.e., the carrier. The permit – as reported to OTA will be held by Walmart — is supposed to be revocable. But, it is OTA’s further understanding, the extended trailers will be pulled by carriers working for but not owned by Walmart.

5. The proposed permit conditions are too weak. They should directionally be similar to those established for the Ontario LCV program – i.e., they should mandate a higher degree of carrier qualification than currently proposed; establish driver qualifications (the current proposal contains no such requirements); and, prescribe specific origins and destinations.

6. Unless these pre-requisites are contained in the permit conditions, OTA cannot support the proposed Walmart trial.

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