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Head of NITL goes “BANANA” over capacity issues

TORONTO, Ont. John Ficker, head of the National Industrial Transportation League, painted a bleak picture for the...

TORONTO, Ont. John Ficker, head of the National Industrial Transportation League, painted a bleak picture for the North American transportation network’s ability to handle future growth in his address to the Transpo 06 conference this week.

“Whether it’s 50%, 75% or 100% growth, it doesn’t matter. The current system can’t handle the volume,” Ficker said. “Capacity is tight in every market. I can’t think of any mode that isn’t.”

He pointed out that rail is so crowded that rail service providers are actually “demarketing” clients essentially getting out of business arrangements in which they no longer wish to be involved.

“And how do you add capacity quick ? Who wants a new rail yard built in their neighborhood? We’ve had the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome. Now we’ve got BANANA syndrome Build Absolutely Nothing And Near Anything,” Ficker said. “Can you imagine if we had to file environmental studies to build the original rail system? It wouldn’t have happened.”

Ficker also pointed out that a combination of factors low pay, poor quality of lifestyle and demographics have made for a driver shortage situation in trucking that is proving difficult to resolve.

“How many of you would encourage your children to be truck drivers?” he challenged.

He also cautioned Canadians, who often point to the US as being better at meeting its transportation and infrastructure challenges, not to be overly impressed by large budget numbers. The US is spending $286 over six years on improving its infrastructure but Ficker said that “doesn’t even come close to dealing with the real infrastructure needs of the country.”

Ficker said the many challenges surrounding transportation and infrastructure require that stakeholders take a much more vocal approach in dealing with government on both sides of the border.

“We have to become the people who raise the voice of freight, because freight doesn’t vote and at the end of the day it doesn’t get you elected,” Ficker said. “You need to be there in front of your local politicians. If you’re not there and you don’t like what happens, I suggest you pull out a mirror and blame the person you see there,” Ficker said.

Truck News’ sister publication, Canadian Transportation & Logistics was the media sponsor of Transpo 2006.

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