Author: Vitaliy Dadalyan

Rate pressure to persist through year’s end

Manufacturing output, inventories stagnant, but regulatory challenges loom Truckers should expect six to nine more months of downward pressure on rates, a leading transportation analyst suggests, but shippers should be cautious about aggressively pursuing cost reductions as a regulatory squeeze on capacity could outweigh a stagnant economy by mid-2017.

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CVSA Upbeat on FAST Act Impact on Carrier Safety

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Jay Thompson testifying before U.S. Senate panel. Image: CVSA


Jay Thompson testifying before U.S. Senate panel. Image: CVSA


As the Commercial Vehicle Safety Association sees it, the FAST Act highway bill passed late last year included numerous provisions that, once implemented, will improve motor carrier safety.

“Increased funding means states can improve their programs and reach more in industry,” stated Maj. Jay Thompson of the Arkansas Highway Police, in testimony he delivered on Capitol Hill this week in his role as president of CVSA.

Thompson went on to tell members of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security that changes the bill will bring to the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program “will cut out unnecessary administrative burdens and help focus funds where they will be most effective.”

In addition, he testified that changes to the regulatory process mandated by the FAST Act will “help streamline” regulations and improve their clarity and transparency.

Thompson also contended that mandated improvements to data quality and information technology systems will ensure that states and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will “have the information they need to continue to improve the effectiveness of MCSAP.”

On the other hand, Thompson advised that Congress and stakeholders “still have work to do. A long-term funding mechanism must be identified to ensure MCSAP continues to grow with the industry. Enforcement and industry must come together to identify a responsible, practical approach to exemptions and we must address deficiencies related to passenger carrier enforcement in order to keep our roadways safe for the people traveling on them.”

While he said that “the good news is the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program works,” he also remarked that “there are a number of challenges the states are dealing with that diminish the effectiveness of the program. The FAST Act, however, included a number of requirements that, once completed, will improve motor carrier safety and CVSA looks forward to working with Congress, DOT, industry and other stakeholders” on that implementation.

“CVSA strongly supported the changes to MCSAP implemented in the FAST Act,” Thompson said. “The changes, most of which are effective beginning in fiscal year 2017, will provide states with additional flexibility in how they spend their MCSAP grant funds, streamline the grant application process, eliminate redundancies between overlapping programs, and reduce the administrative burden on states, allowing them to spend more time doing the work of the program and less time on administrative activities.”

He called that flexibility critical, contending that it will give states “the ability to design a comprehensive CMV safety program that utilizes creative solutions to address issues unique to each state, while also meeting all program requirements.”

Despite delivering a largely positive message about FAST Act reforms, Thompson was realistic about the task ahead to deliver on the law's intent. “Implementing these changes is going to be a long and involved undertaking.”

He added that FMCSA has already begun making the necessary changes in preparation for fiscal year 2017, notifying the states of the new configuration and program requirements at the a MCSAP planning meeting that was held back in March.

“Because the changes are so significant and impact every facet of the program,” he added, “it is imperative that CVSA, the state jurisdictions and FMCSA work together to identify potential issues as they arise and identify the best working solution for all parties.”

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HDAW 2017 to Focus on Developing Diverse Solutions

Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week '17 conference organizers have announced “Developing Diverse Solutions,” as the theme for next year's annual aftermarket conference. The conference is set for Jan. 23-26, 2017 at the Mirage in Las Vegas, Nev.

"Distributors, suppliers and fleets are all able to learn and build off this exciting program. Every participant has something valuable they can take away to empower creativity and positive energy throughout the industry,” said Carl Mesker, vice president of the aftermarket Americas. "Finding new solutions to problems is what our industry needs, that is exactly what this year is all about.

Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week '17 will offer industry participants four days of education programs, a product expo with the new HD parts-services and information, peer networking opportunities and social activities. There will also be opportunities for one-on-one meetings during which suppliers and distributors can discuss business, grow relationships and figure out how to better serve customers.

The 12th Annual HDAW is the largest North American gathering of independent heavy-duty aftermarket industry. More than 2,300 executives and managers from the U.S. , Canada and six other countries attended the 2016 conference, representing distributors, suppliers, service providers, educators and industry media.

For more information on next year's conference, click here.

Related: Speak Up On Aftermarket Issues

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SoCalGas Opens Heavy-Duty Ready CNG Station

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has opened a new public compressed natural gas (CNG) station in the heart of Pico Rivera, Calif., warehouse and distribution district. The new CNG station extends the network of CNG stations across a key regional goods movement corridor and will provide owners and operators of natural gas-fueled trucks and other vehicles with a new, convenient place to fuel.

The new public CNG station will help improve air quality by providing a more convenient location for CNG fueling and by helping to meet growing demand from commercial fleets for a clean-burning and affordable fuel. New commercially available CNG heavy-duty trucks can reduce smog-forming Nitrogen Oxides emissions by 90 percent from CARB 2010 emissions standards, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent. This can play an important role in improving the quality of life for families in communities near transportation corridors.

Those most likely impacted in transportation corridors are disadvantaged communities. Studies also indicate that air pollution contributes to asthma, cancer, and premature death, especially in children and the elderly.

"Southern California is leading the nation's clean energy revolution," said Linda Sánchez, who represents the 38th District of California that includes Pico Rivera, where the new SoCalGas CNG fueling station is located. "This new fueling station will improve public transportation for the region, grow our economy, and help our community fight air pollution. As a strong proponent of clean energy alternatives, I am excited to see more clean vehicles on our roads and freeways."

"The MSRC was proud to provide $150,000 in Clean Transportation Funding to SoCalGas for the equipment, installation and other costs to help build this CNG station," said Greg Pettis, chair of the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC) and mayor pro-tem of Cathedral City, Calif. "This is the second SoCalGas station this year for which the MSRC has provided funding, so we are excited to help contribute to the continually expanding network of CNG fueling stations across the Southland."

The new heavy-duty-capable public station was designed for the needs of heavy-duty trucks, with wide driveways for easy turning, 16-foot high canopies with LED lighting, and robust compressors for quick, reliable fueling. In addition to SoCalGas' capital investment, the station is made possible by financial support from the MSRC.

In addition to the station, SoCalGas supports heavy duty commercial fleets with its Truck Rental Program, a "try before you buy" initiative that provides a free two-week CNG heavy duty tractor or truck rental for customers to experience firsthand the performance and efficiency of a CNG vehicle.

The company provides information, education and expert tools and consultation to fleets to support them in evaluating how CNG trucks can work and provides technical expertise to help customers and partners develop new refueling facilities.

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E-Horizon Weather Alert Service Helps Drivers Avoid Traffic

Weather Telematics is now offering E-Horizon Weather Hazard Alert Service, an Add-In provides customers with a proactive accident avoidance system that transmits verbal and visual warnings of weather-related road hazards to dispatchers and drivers.

E-Horizon is designed to provide a toolkit for fleet managers and telematics service providers to manage the impact of weather hazards on fleet logistics.

“We are excited to be launching our E-Horizon Road Weather Hazard Alert Service with Geotab,” said Bob Moran president and CEO, Weather Telematics. “The focus of our business is reducing transportation risk and saving lives. Our relationship with Geotab reflects our strategic goal of providing safer transportation services in all global markets through strong global partnerships.”

The service is available on the Geotab Marketplace which offers GPS fleet management and vehicle tracking solutions. The Marketplace is a complement to the MyGeotab platform provides customers with an ecosystem of business-focused applications and add-ons. The Marketplace is on track to feature over 200 third party application by the end of the year.

“Fleet and driver safety is one of our major focal points at Geotab, which makes E-Horizon an excellent addition to the Geotab Marketplace,” said Neil Cawse, Geotab CEO. “With its proactive weather alert capabilities on both a verbal and visual level, we anticipate that Marketplace users from fleets of all sizes will reap significant benefits with E-Horizon.”

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