Letters: Broker Wars Redux, Rate Setting, Snow-Removal Law, Trucks Pay Their Way

These Letters to the Editor appear in the May 17 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Broker Wars Redux

I noticed a letter in the April 26 issue where the writer was protesting the move to raise the property broker bond from the laughable $10,000 to a more responsible amount of at least $100,000. (Click here for previous letter.)

The situation at present is that a broker’s license can be had online for a matter of $200 and change, and those with a criminal background are not excluded — although most likely they could not obtain a bond from bonding and/or insurance companies. The solution in those cases is simply to post a cash bond of $10,000 with the Federal Highway Administration.



That’s why many of us in the industry refer to the current licensing and bonding system as a “federal license to steal.” With freight payment terms in the 30- to 45-day range considered to be “on time,” a broker can accumulate a large amount of cash in that period — in too many cases with a irresponsible person, it can be just too tempting — and forfeiting the $10,000 bond is just peanuts.

M.D. Shaffner

President

Competitive Transportation Inc.

Crestline, Ohio

Rate Setting

Editor’s Note: The following two letters are based on a May 10 TTNews.com story reporting that TransCore has launched a rate-exchange program providing spot market rates based on anonymous data gathered from freight brokers and third-party logistics providers.

Another downward step has been taken by what once was a well-regarded profession. Spot rates, market rates, etc. — whatever happened to rates predicated on cost plus a reasonable profit?

Paul Lyczak

Traffic Manager

On-Cor Frozen Foods

Chicago

Just another tool for a shipper to use to determine what to pay a carrier to perform a service without taking into consideration the costs associated with providing that service.

Maybe someday in the distant future, carriers will be able to set their own rates and determine what they will charge for a service, based on their operating and all associated costs. Then maybe we will be able to pay the drivers what they deserve and have wage scales and benefits that will attract more individuals to become “professional” over-the-road truck drivers.

Bring back the Interstate Commerce Commission and the tariff bureaus.

Fred Fittante

Vice President, Operations

Southern Pines Trucking

Pittsburgh

Snow-Removal Law

New Jersey and Connecticut must lack serious issues for creditable legislative action: With all that is facing the states’ economy, crimes, infrastructure, etc., they choose to spend their time — and your tax dollars — enacting ridiculous legislation that requires mandatory snow removal from vehicles. (Click here for previous story.)

No doubt, we all have experienced falling snow, ice and whatever from vehicles, but not to the extent that we have to have a law addressing it.

I guess common sense shouldn’t be a factor in this matter: It’s not enough to know, as a motor vehicle operator, that snow and ice could fall off tractor, trailer and truck roofs, to expect it to happen, to watch for it and to be prepared for it. In reality, the fat cats in New Jersey and Connecticut legislative circles are scraping away at the bottom of the legislative barrel not only for passing this law but also for even considering it.

Is this what they come up with to justify their expenditures of time and money? Does this action take priority over everything else? Is it really what the people of those two states want?

What’s next for the East Coast? Maybe gutter systems on the roofs of trailers so the rainwater will not run off onto other vehicles?

Lawrence Hartung

Director of Safety

deBoer Transportation Inc.

Blenker, Wis.

Trucks Pay Their Way

President Obama’s view of truck transportation versus rail and water makes one wonder if anyone in his administration ever has been in a truck or understands what the truck transportation industry does for the United States.

Compared with Class 8 trucks, taxes paid by railroads are next to nothing because they are subsidized by the federal government. The same applies to state taxes paid by railroads — next to nothing.

Every year, carriers with Class 8 trucks pay highway use taxes to the federal government in the amount of $550 for each truck; railroads pay zero.

Carriers with Class 8 trucks pay as high as $16,000 in federal excise taxes at the time of purchase, and as a refrigerated carrier, we pay another $5,000 to $6,000 in FET for refrigerated trailers, totaling $22,000 per unit.

Furthermore, truckload carriers pay thousands of dollars in fuel taxes for each state they travel in, which would be eliminated if freight were diverted to rail. How would the states recover from the loss of that source of revenue?

Class 8 trucks owned by truckload carriers haven’t received any of the stimulus money consistently handed out to unions in all industries, especially less-than-truckload truck lines.

The Department of Transportation does not audit large carriers with a thousand or more units because they do not have the personnel. Instead, they audit small carriers that are just as safe, or safer, than the large carriers are but easier to audit, fine and collect payment from as a source of revenue for the federal and state governments.

The majority of owner-operators have the newest and most expensive truck tractors money can buy and the best-kept equipment because they are proud of their rigs. The large fleet carriers, on the other hand, have the oldest and cheapest trucks in the industry and get a pass at most scales because they never are audited.

Plain and simple, owner-operators and the companies they represent are the safest and most efficient transportation providers in the United States.

Barry Bloedel

President

America Midwest Transportation LLC

New Ulm, Minn.

 

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