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March 5, 2012 8:00 AM, EST

Letters: Size and Weight, Bonus Depreciation

These Letters to the Editor appear in the March 5 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Size and Weight

Two items in your Feb. 20 issue were striking in their relevance. The first was an article about how fleets are finally realizing that one size doesn’t fit all applications and are spec’ing equipment to match operational challenges in urban environments (“Class 6-7 Vehicles Help For-Hire Fleets Diversify, Save, Squeeze Into Metro Areas,” p. 5).

The second item was a letter to you from one of your European readers, who was having trouble understanding why we limit the size of the trailer but have no limit on the overall length of the vehicle, given the obvious safety and operational implications (“Weighty Questions,” p. 9).

In other words, it is very hard to bend a 53-foot trailer around a pole (or a parked car or a building) without someone paying a large damage claim — not to mention the time involved and inefficiencies in a typical trip when you have to back every vehicle up at every turn, even if nothing gets hit.

I have one word to offer the people who run these fleets — “cabover.”

I have run a Freightliner Argosy sleeper cabover in my operation for 11 years, frequently in time-sensitive deliveries in urban areas all over North America. Indeed, I have customers who pay a premium for the service that I can provide and others cannot.

Not a day goes by without some driver walking up to me and saying he wished he still had his [cab-over-engine] so he not only could get around in streets but also in truck-stop parking lots, rest areas, tight docks, etc.

Freightliner still builds this advanced design for export, with the latest emissions control technologies for enlightened customers in other countries.

I could name at least 25 private fleets — and many more for-hire fleets — that would benefit from this design. A few examples include auto-parts company chains delivering from warehouse to retail stores, building supplies going to retail stores, the many “dollar stores” that have no dock and only a small parking lot, and many food-service companies delivering to retail restaurants — have you ever seen a big fast-food parking lot? The list goes on.

The drivers who deliver to these places are away for two or three nights a week and need the hours-of-service flexibility of a sleeper, but they also need maneuverability.

It is a huge mistake to stick a guy in a cabover and send him out on the road for three weeks at a time, warehouse to warehouse. That was the misapplication that gave cabovers such a bad reputation. But the industry overreacted by not considering them in a different light, such as was alluded to in the Feb. 20 article.

One size doesn’t fit all, and a cabover, with or without a sleeper, is a totally viable alternative and extremely flexible option, adding to the bottom line. And that is why we are in this business, right?

Jeff Beyer

Owner-Operator

Trailer Transit

New Tripoli, Pa.

Bonus Depreciation

Your recent article on bonus depreciation left out that the government receives a 12% excise tax on all equipment purchased (“Congress Drops Tax Break; Incentive Boosted 2011 Sales,” 2-20, p. 4). Everybody benefits.

This was a very good article — thank you for reporting on bonus depreciation.

Kevin Mathews

President

Genox Transportation Inc.

Houston