Letters: Perception vs. Reality, Containers, Road Fund Cash

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Aug. 10 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Perception vs. Reality

Three different articles in your July 20 publication underline the huge disconnect between current policymakers’ perception and the realities of our industry.

 Despite the great large-truck fatality numbers just released for 2008 that set records and marked the third straight year of significant decline, the courts still will entertain the challenge to the hours of service by Public Citizen and a coalition of other interest groups (p. 2).



Their proposed changes would tighten lane structure and encourage shorter route design, which would increase density and congestion and prove to be less EPA-friendly and create more safety issues, not fewer.

 The call to remove 10% of truck traffic from the nations’ highways by the year 2020 was pointed out as “almost ludicrous” by a former chairman of American Trucking Associations and rightfully so (p. 3; click here for story). This mere comment speaks volumes about how little our policymakers know about our industry and how it works.

The only way to cut truck traffic to the degree presented would be to push this already horrible recession into a full-blown depression and kill off most of the old folks who need the “stuff” brought by trucks.

 The cost of congestion rises to $87.2 billion despite the large reduction in miles traveled and fuel consumed in 2007 (p. 10). This report discloses that there has been “a 50% increase in the economic costs of traffic congestion over the past decade, which amounts to a growing ‘hidden tax’ levied on American families and businesses.”

As a suggestion from someone inside the industry, I would propose a change in the HOS that would address congestion in a common-sense fashion without compromising safety. That is to allow split sleeper berth rest once again. This would allow drivers to stage over-the-road trucks more flexibly; would allow pickups and deliveries to be scheduled more accurately; would reduce idling time; would reduce truck traffic in peak hours and congested areas; and would further the goal of safety in trucking.

David Owen

President

National Association of Small Trucking Companies

Hendersonville, Tenn.

In his testimony before a Senate committee in July, the former chairman of American Trucking Associations, Ray Kuntz, said that a bill proposing to transfer 10% of freight off the roads and onto nonhighway or multimodal services was “almost ludicrous” (7-20, p. 3; click here for story).

Here lies the basic problem with all governments: Most of the people who work in them have no real idea what it is that trucks do. They view them as noisy, smelly obstructions.

Maybe instead of getting outraged, we should ask the individuals who proposed this, “Which segments of the economy would you want to see crippled?”

They have no clue that everything, at one point or another, travels by truck.

George Imperatore

Old River Services

Agency for TAI Logistics

River Vale, N.J.

Containers

We pull containers from Tennessee to the ports of Savannah, Charleston, etc. Does anyone know what the heck has happened to the freight? It is dead for owner-operators out of Nashville, Tenn., with the company we are leased to.

My husband is lucky to get one round per week. He actually brought home a paycheck for $8.94 for a week’s work after paying for his one-time fuel fill-up with diesel. That really went far for paying bills.

Don’t say it’s the economy. People are still buying products, and not all factories are closed.

These guys are hauling various items in containers to and from the ports. Have they quit producing overseas since taking our jobs over there?

I just find it hard to believe that this type of trucking is so slow. No one around here seems to know anything about what is going on with this end of the trucking industry, so I thought maybe someone could do a story about this. I love this newspaper — there is a lot of really good insight into the trucking industry and its goings-on.

Joyce Starkey

Owner-Operator

B&J Transport

McMinnville, Tenn.

Road Fund Cash

The Highway Trust Fund is short of cash because 14% of road-use taxes are diverted to public transit.

The typical bus rider pays less than 15% of the cost to purchase, operate, maintain and store a transit vehicle. The trust fund diversion provides the remaining funds, even though fewer than 5% of Americans have convenient access to transit.

The average 10-occupant, 3-mile-per-gallon bus is less fuel- and emission-efficient than the average two-occupant, 27-mpg car or even a Prius Hybrid with one occupant.

Bus fares should be increased to pay 70% of the bus’ total costs and allow reduced diversion of road-use taxes.

Joseph Neff

Retired Chief Engineer

Cummins Inc.

Peterbilt Motors

Gillig Corp.

Indianapolis

 

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