California ports target exhaust

user-gravatar Headshot

A cross-country convoy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the interstate highway system concluded with a Washington, D.C., ceremony June 29 – a half-century to the day after President Eisenhower signed the system’s landmark funding appropriation. The nation’s capital marks both “the physical end of this expedition” and “the beginning of our voyage to keep the interstate system safe and strong for the next 50 years,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who left the department last month.

The Medical Review Board – established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to review driver qualification standards – will meet on Aug. 31 at the Department of Transportation headquarters building in Washington, D.C. For more information, go to http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 24931.

Freight Transportation Services Index rose 1.9 percent in May to 113.2 from the April level of 111.0, turning up after a one-month decline, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported. The May 2006 level is 0.4 percent higher than the May 2005 level. For the first five months of 2006, the Freight TSI rose 2.0 percent.

American Trucking Associations’ 2006 National Truck Driving Championships will be held Aug. 15-19 in New Orleans’ Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Nearly 400 top professional truck drivers will visit the city for the annual competition.

In a move expected by the trucking industry for some time, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on June 28 announced the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan – a package of mandates that would force a reduction in diesel exhaust emissions at the nation’s two largest ports.

Among other things, the plan would require by 2011 that all trucks operating at the ports “frequently or semi-frequently” meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2007 on-road emissions standards for particulate matter and use the cleanest available technology for curtailing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions at the time of replacement or retrofit.

The plan does include a carrot as well as a stick, however. The ports and the South Coast Air Quality Management District propose spending more than $200 million to help truck operators finance new or retrofitted vehicles.

The trucking industry isn’t the only target of the San Pedro plan, however. The ports also would require all major container cargo and cruise ship terminals at the ports to be equipped with shore-side electricity within 5 to 10 years so that vessels can provide climate control and other power needs without running diesel-powered auxiliary engines. Cargo-handling equipment also would have to meet the toughest EPA emissions standards for that equipment within 5 years.

Interested parties had 30 days to comment on the plan, after which the boards of both ports were to vote on whether to adopt the Clean Air Action Plan and its proposed lease requirements, tariff changes and incentives.

An overview of the ports’ clean air plan is available at www.portoflosangeles.org.


FMCSA drafts supporting documents rule
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Department of Transportation have completed work on a final rule concerning supporting documents requirements for driver logs, and has sent the draft to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. OMB review is the final stage of the rulemaking process before the final rule is published in the Federal Register and becomes a regulation.

Supporting documents are those items that FMCSA expects to see in inspections and compliance reviews to help verify the accuracy of driver records of duty status. The Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Motor Carriers – FMCSA’s predecessor – originally proposed new regulations governing supporting documents in April 1998, but progress stalled, in part because of the debate over new hours-of-service regulations. FMCSA issued a revised proposal in November 2004. The rulemaking already is more than 10 years beyond its original statutory deadline of Feb. 26, 1996.

Although the federal safety regulations already require supporting documents, carriers have on numerous occasions challenged FMCSA in agency proceedings and in court for its interpretation of those rules. So one of the principal purposes of the new regulations would be to clarify what supporting documents motor carriers must retain and to reaffirm that motor carriers must use supporting documents to verify drivers’ logs.

FMCSA proposes to require that any written or electronic trip document include at least the driver’s name or the vehicle number so that the document can be tied to a particular driver. The proposal adopts a regulatory definition of a supporting document to mean “any document that is generated or received by a motor carrier or commercial motor vehicle driver in the normal course of business that could be used, as produced or with additional identifying information, to verify the accuracy of a driver’s record of duty status.” FMCSA provided a long list of examples such as global positioning system reports and numerous other types of electronic data.

Both the trucking industry and its critics have problems with the proposal. In comments to FMCSA, the American Trucking Associations contended that the November 2004 supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking “is neither a minor modification of an existing regulation nor a reasonable extension of the 1998 rulemaking on this same subject, but rather a major and expansive proposed rule.” ATA argued, among other things, that the proposed rule:

· Conflicts with the requirements of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Authorization Act of 1994;
· Falls short of the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and Paperwork Reduction Act;
· Lacks information needed for regulatory analysis and cost evaluation by OMB; and
· Significantly expands recordkeeping responsibilities for motor carriers.

Public Citizen, which has led the charge to tighten a number of motor carrier safety rules, objected that the proposed supporting documents rules fall short of the goals set out by statute and that “there are many serious flaws in the agency’s proposal, which would cripple its oversight and complicate, rather than simplify, FMCSA’s compliance program.” Public Citizen argued in its comments that the proposed rule:
· Neither clarifies the definition of supporting documents nor provides guidance about which supporting documents are superior or preferable to others;
· Allows electronic supporting documents but fails to offer any criteria to ensure uniformity among the data;
· Should extend the retention minimum to at least one year
to give FMCSA time to follow up on complaints and compliance reviews; and
· Fails to provide design criteria for the mandatory self-monitoring systems for handling supporting documents and verifying driver logs.

For more information, visit http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 3706.


ATA: Turnover dropped in first quarter
The driver turnover rate among large truckload carriers experienced its largest quarterly decrease in 10 years during the 2006 first quarter, the American Trucking Associations reported.

ATA, which began collecting driver turnover statistics in 1995, reported that turnover for large truckload carriers was at a 116 percent annual rate for the first three months of the year. This figure was 20 percentage points below the 2005 fourth quarter rate of 136 percent. “Softer freight volumes and looser capacity during the quarter likely helped lower the rate of turnover,” says Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “However, the rate still remains high and hasn’t been below 100 percent since the fourth quarter of 2002.”

Small truckload carriers saw the average turnover rate increase slightly to 111 percent, marking the highest annualized rate on record. Reports from carriers indicate that a number of large truckload fleets are reducing some of their long-haul freight to accommodate drivers’ preferences to spend more time at home. “Some small truckload carriers appear to be picking up a portion of the larger carriers’ long-haul freight,” Costello says. “This could explain why the turnover rate among small truckload carriers was only a few percentage points below that of large carriers, when historically the gap has been much larger.”

The less-than-truckload line-haul driver annualized turnover rate was just 13 percent during the 2006 first quarter, compared with 17 percent in the previous three-month period. Both small truckload and less-than-truckload fleets experienced reductions in total employment during the first quarter of this year. Despite a contraction in the local driver pool, the employee base of large truckload carriers increased by 1.9 percent during the same period. The number of line-haul drivers increased 1.8 percent for this group, ATA said.

Costello said softer freight volumes usually lead to less competition for drivers and often result in lower turnover rates, but that driver pay increases also may explain the lower turnover rate, particularly among large carriers.


Tonnage index up slightly in May
The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 0.3 percent in May, following a 2.0 percent gain in April. The latest increase put the seasonally adjusted index at 113.0. Compared with May 2005, the index was 1.3 percent lower; however, the not-seasonally adjusted index rose 11.2 percent from April to 119.8.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says May’s volumes built upon the improvement in April after a tough February and March, but he noted that the index was still 4.3 percent lower than January’s reading of 118.0, the highest level so far this year. A significant retail inventory correction coupled with softer volumes for high-weight products in the manufacturing sector curbed tonnage volumes in both February and March.

“Truck tonnage growth in May was another good step in the right direction,” Costello says. “With economic growth expected to stabilize in the months ahead, by and large, I expect modest increases in truck tonnage.” Costello says industry capacity remains relatively tight and would tighten even further this fall.

ATA calculates the index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. The baseline year is 2000.


Paccar, Cummins strike deal on Class 6-7 engines
Paccar and Cummins have announced an agreement for Cummins’ 6- and 8-liter engines to be installed exclusively in Paccar’s Class 6 and 7 commercial vehicles. Paccar makes trucks under the Kenworth and Peterbilt brands, as well as DAF in Europe. The two companies currently are developing proprietary configurations for the engines, which will be branded as Paccar engines and placed in Peterbilt and Kenworth North American Class 6 and 7 trucks, beginning Jan. 1, 2007. Peterbilt and Kenworth will continue to offer a choice of engines in their Class 8 vehicles.

Paccar President Tom Plimpton says the deal will enable Paccar to compete with truck makers that have their own proprietary medium-duty engines and will reduce the cost of approving multiple 2007-compliant engines for their chassis. “This agreement is a natural extension of the engine collaboration, which DAF and Cummins have had in Europe for seven years,” Plimpton says.

The Cummins 4- and 6-liter engines already are exclusive in the DAF LF product, the leading light-duty commercial vehicle in the United Kingdom that has about 10 percent of the European market. Paccar has about 10 percent of the North American medium-duty market.

“Cummins was the first diesel engine installed in Kenworth in 1933, and this agreement continues the legacy of innovation and market leadership between the two companies,” says Joe Loughrey, Cummins president and chief operating officer.


SCS sells Jevic, becomes Saia
SCS Transportation sold hybrid LTL and truckload carrier Jevic to Sun Capital Partners for $40 million in cash sale, and it also changed its corporate name to Saia Inc. With Jevic jettisoned, multi-regional LTL carrier Saia Motor Freight Line is the company’s sole focus. Saia Inc. will move its headquarters from Kansas City, Mo., to Duluth, Ga., where the Saia Motor Freight unit is based. Bert Trucksess will continue to serve as chairman and chief executive officer through 2006, after which he will become non-executive chairman. Rick O’Dell, who was president of the Saia Motor Freight unit, will succeed Trucksess as CEO.


UTSI buys Noble & Pitts
Universal Truckload Services Inc. has acquired the operations of Noble & Pitts, a Scottsboro, Ala.-based truckload carrier providing nationwide dry van, flatbed and brokerage services. Noble & Pitts – which will operate as part of Universal’s Mason & Dixon Lines subsidiary – generated combined truckload and brokerage revenues of about $33 million in 2005, including fuel surcharges of $3 million.


Velocity to buy CD&L
Velocity Express said it will acquire package-delivery competitor CD&L for $66 million. Velocity said it sold 4 million shares of preferred stock for $40 million and took on another $70.7 million in secured debt in connection with the signing of the acquisition agreement, which is expected to close in mid-August.


Concrete haulers seek disaster- related HOS relief
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment until Aug. 17 on an application from the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association for a two-year exemption from certain provisions of the hours-of-service rules. The exemption would apply to an estimated 800 ready-mix drivers delivering to active construction sites in states affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita – Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Under the requested exemption, drivers of ready-mixed concrete vehicles in designated areas would be allowed to operate under the 100 air-mile radius exception from the requirement to prepare records of duty status provided they are released from work within 14 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

For more information, visit http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 23459.


Paschall and Dupre ink deal
Dupre Transport has sold its over-the-road van package fleet to Murray, Ky.-based Paschall Truck Lines. Dupre retains its Dupre Logistics and Dupre Tank business units. Terms of the transaction were not announced.


FHWA to award truck parking grants soon
The Federal Highway Administration plans soon to solicit grant proposals to expand access to truck parking throughout the National Highway System. The agency outlined the guidelines for proposals in an emergency request submitted to the White House of Management and Budget for authority to request proposals and other information needed to prioritize projects for grant funding.

The grant program was authorized by last year’s highway act, known as the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient and Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, or SAFETEA-LU. Under the legislation, eligible projects include:

· Using technology to disseminate information on the availability of truck parking;
· Opening “non-traditional” facilities, such as inspection and weigh stations and park-and-ride facilities, to truck parking;
· Upgrading truck parking facilities that currently are open on only a seasonal basis so they can be used year round;
· Building turnouts along highways or improving the “geometric design” of interchanges to facilitate parking;
· Building additional truck parking next to truck stops and travel plazas; and
· Building safety rest areas that include truck parking.

The program will run from fiscal 2006, the current fiscal year, through fiscal 2009. Funding levels may vary from year to year, but FHWA says $5.384 million is available for fiscal 2006. For more information, visit http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 25067.


Staubach headlines GATS Fleet Forum
Football great and Texas businessman Roger Staubach will kick off the 2006 Fleet Forum at the Great American Trucking Show by discussing his core belief that teamwork is central to business as well as sports. Staubach, a Heisman Trophy winner and Pro Football Hall of Famer, led the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories, and he also is CEO of a successful real estate development company.

The 2006 Fleet Forum, presented by GATS and the Texas Motor Transportation Association, will be held Aug. 24-25 at the Dallas Convention Center. It’s part of the 8th annual GATS, to be held Aug. 24-26. Other speakers at the Fleet Forum will be:
· Bill Webb, FFE Transportation, discussing reduction of idling;
· Don Osterberg, Schneider National, discussing driver training simulation;
· Tom Veery, National Biodiesel Board, discussing the present and future of biodiesel;
· Henry Seaton, Seaton & Husk, discussing important but often overlooked risks for trucking
companies; and
· Todd Amen, American Truck Business Services, discussing ways to benchmark owner-operators.

The Fleet Forum is sponsored by Commercial Carrier Journal, Bridgestone, Midnight Trucking Radio Network, Shell Lubricants, Cummins Inc. and Peterbilt Motors Co. Registration is complementary to fleet executives, but seating is limited. Call 888-349-4287 to register or go to www.gatsonline.com for more information.


Study: Per-mile pay frustrates drivers
A study of 326 large U.S. trucking companies found truckers dissatisfied with per-mile pay, which does not allow them control over their performance. Alternative pay systems, such as hourly or yearly salaries, could improve driver turnover rates, the researchers said.

Nina Gupta, University of Arkansas management professor, and colleagues found that in addition to working conditions and lack of home time, many truckers are unhappy with their per-mile payment method. Drivers at 75 percent of the companies listed “not enough driving hours/runs scheduled” as a problem.

“It’s not that drivers are not paid enough per mile,” Gupta said. “It’s the total number of miles that’s a problem. Many drivers are frustrated because they don’t have control over the number of miles they drive. Because they’re paid by the mile, they want to keep rolling. They don’t like it when they’re hundreds of miles from home and waiting for new assignment.”

Driver turnover averaged 28 percent among all companies studied, the researchers said.
Jill Dunn


CCJ Equipment Demand Index: The big three shine in September

VANS
September ’05 ’04 ’03
Illinois 1 1 1
Ohio 2 2 2
Indiana 3 4 3
Texas 4 3 7
Wisconsin 5 7 6
Tennessee 6 5 5
Missouri 7 8 4
North Carolina 8 11 8
California 9 6 13
Kentucky 10 14 9
New York 11 9 10
Mississippi 12 10 12
Minnesota 13 15 14
Georgia 14 13 11
New Jersey 15 12 19
FLATS
September ’05 ’04 ’03
Texas 1 1 1
Ohio 2 3 2
Illinois 3 4 3
Georgia 4 5 7
Arkansas 5 6 4
Indiana 6 7 5
North Carolina 7 11 11
South Carolina 8 10 14
Alabama 9 2 6
Minnesota 10 16 12
Kentucky 11 13 13
Tennessee 12 9 9
California 13 14 19
Missouri 14 20 17
Florida 15 19 21
REEFERS
September ’05 ’04 ’03
Illinois 1 1 1
Wisconsin 2 2 3
Texas 3 8 10
Ohio 4 4 2
California 5 3 4
New York 6 6 6
Georgia 7 9 7
Minnesota 8 7 8
Missouri 9 5 5
Washington 10 11 18
Mississippi 11 15 13
New Jersey 12 14 17
Iowa 13 13 12
Colorado 14 12 15
Virginia 15 17 23

Illinois and Texas could continue to lead the nation in spot-market demand for equipment during September, but Ohio is a close competitor in two categories. Together, Illinois and Ohio represented 29 percent of all van equipment searches during September 2005.

Texas continues to dominate flatbed demand in September, with Illinois and Ohio tied for second. Together, those states represented 34 percent of all flatbed equipment searches in September 2005.

As in the prior three years, Illinois is showing considerable demand for reefer equipment in September. Tied for second are Wisconsin and Texas with 40 percent fewer reefer searches than Illinois. However, these three states still represented a commanding percentage with 36 percent of total reefer searches.

The CCJ Equipment Demand Index, based on searches performed by TransCore customers, shows the top 15 states in terms of demand for trucks in the spot market in the three most common equipment types. The index is intended to help identify the most promising opportunities for backhaul and spot-market freight in the month after its publication.