EDMONTON — It’s back. And now that Alberta’s one-of-a-kind Partners in Compliance (PIC) program has been given a real shot to succeed, its rescuers are already working on exporting it to the rest of Canada and the U.S.
At a press conference in Edmonton yesterday, Alberta Transportation and Infrastructure and the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) officially launched the retooled program, which allows PIC-approved carriers to bypass 98 percent of scale enforcement for meeting safety and compliance standards far exceeding National Safety Code standards, hours-of-service compliance rates, and driver training benchmarks.
The self-governing program originally floundered shortly after its launch in 1995 because participating carriers weren’t seeing the kind of scale bypass benefits that were originally promised — and in some cases fleets reported targeted enforcement in jurisdictions outside Alberta.
The program fizzled and was left for dead until it was resurrected a few years ago by a handful of committed AMTA and government officials.
Former Alberta cop and founder of Lyal Customs Carriers, Lane Kranenburg, was tapped to oversee the rebuilding process. In an interview with TodaysTrucking.com this morning, Kranenburg credits key Alberta fleets and Roger Clarke, Alberta Transportation’s executive director of Vehicle Safety and Carrier Services, for never wavering in their belief of the program.
“To me (Clarke) was the architect of the restructuring of this program. He and industry really did a good job putting it back on its wheels,” Kranenburg says.
Now, with a new automated vehicle identification system, designed by Saskatchewan’s International Road dynamics, in place at 12 of the province’s 15 scales, Kranenburg said there should be no reason compliant PIC carriers don’t get the benefits promised the first time around.
PIC carriers’ trucks will have in-cab transponders, which communicate with the scale and allow the driver to bypass CVSA inspection in all but 2 percent (about one in 50 passes) of a fleet’s total trips.
“Allowing members of the (PIC) program to bypass inspection stations means that more time is spent on commercial carriers that may not be in compliance with provincial regulations,” said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette in a written statement.
The cost for a transponder is $70 a year, although the monetary value resulting from bypassing increasingly congested inspection stations — not to mention the possibility for more freight contracts — far exceeds the up-front price of the technology, says Kranenburg, who estimates a single truck that makes an average of 300 trips a year can save nearly $3,000 in travel time and fuel.
So far, 14 truck carriers and two bus companies, representing 1,200 vehicles, are signed-up and approved. Another 10 carriers are waiting for clearance.
Off-road carriers that don’t need the highway transponder, but still want the recognition of being an elite carrier, could pay a smaller fee for a PIC plate.
Although much work has been done to get the program rolling again, Kranenburg doesn’t plan on taking any breaks. He says the next step is to convince other Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions to recognize PIC’s superior safety standards. Eventually, he hopes for full reciprocity among the provinces and states.
“It’s important that this program is exported,” he says.
So far, he’s met with Washington state officials and distributed PIC material to B.C. and Saskatchewan. More recently, Kranenburg has spoken to bureaucrats in Ontario and Quebec, and discussed the program with senior Transport Canada officials in Ottawa.
In order to be picked for PIC, a carrier must maintain, among other tough criteria, an OOS rate 10 percent lower than the current NSC standard; no more than one reportable accident per million miles in city areas, and 0.3 accidents per million miles in non-urban areas.
Kranenburg says applicants must pass an NSC audit and a separate core “certificate of recognition” audit, before meeting face-to-face with him. Carriers will report to his office on a quarterly basis to substantiate compliance.
Approved carriers will now receive a new “excellent-audited” rating on their carrier profiles rather than the current “satisfactory” tag.
“The term ‘satisfactory’ in my mind was not up to the standards of PIC,” says Kranenburg. “The (new rating) could prove huge for getting contracts.”
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