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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Safety will be the death of us?
Article thanks to Wendy Parker and
Links provided below:

March 26, 2014
I heard a rumor today that one of the big three in the mega-fleet business is mandating all company drivers remove CB’s from the cab of their trucks, citing safety concerns and distracted driving. I’m not going to mention which one, because I haven’t been able to get anyone in management to confirm the rumor. They also won’t deny it.
Citing safety concerns is the new way to completely control any environment someone chooses to control completely. We see it every single day in the trucking industry. It bleeds into our lives like an insidious poison every time the government removes another of our civil liberties in the name of protecting us from ourselves. Apparently no one has the sense to realize the safest a human body can be is dead and buried in the ground, and I doubt very seriously the good Lord intended us to come here to achieve only that.
Life is dangerous from conception. The new womb is a maelstrom of hormonal imbalance, and I think everyone pretty much knows how unpleasant hormonal imbalances can be. The minute you hit the ground running, it’s a race between this side of the dirt and a check for your loved ones from State Farm. Life is a dangerous and messy affair — you get dirty, you fall down, things get broken and you learn valuable lessons. And that’s just in one Saturday night at the Dew Drop Inn.
It’s our responsibility to protect future generations by passing these valuable lessons on to them. Progress of the species is retarded when there is no failure. You can’t keep someone safe from themselves: no matter how many rules you impose, there are human beings out there who will continue to test the limits. Some of them will kill innocent people in the process, some will discover new ways to improve the human race as a whole.
I realize rules and regulations are necessary. I’m by no means an advocate of frenzied anarchy, but we’ve taken it too far when we take the CB out of trucking. Seriously. That’s like taking the athletic cup out of baseball. Not everyone chooses to use one, but it’s a safety call the officials allow the players to make on their own.
I’d venture to say those who choose not to use one probably change their minds after they get nailed in the beans a couple of times, just like a driver who runs without a CB may choose to use one after they’re stuck in an avoidable traffic jam (which is the equivalent of being nailed in the beans to a trucker). The point is they have a choice.
We’ll be at MATS the rest of the week. I’ve got my ears peeled and I’ll be listening. See you in Louisville!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Triple Turbo Cummins kills Camaro ZL1 at Las Vegas

Thanks to Jason Cannon and Links Provided: 
When you trot a 580 horsepower Camaro ZL1 to the drag strip, the odds are usually in your favor. Especially when your opponent is wheeling a Ram pickup. The Ram is about as customized as they come, and the Camaro is mostly stock. So, it’s not unreasonable that the truck leaves the pony car in its wake. However, it’s still impressive as the Ram’s performance in the quarter-mile assured this race was never even close. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bison Transport, Paramount Freight Systems Named Best Fleets to Drive For
March 25, 2014 By Jim Beach and Links provided:

TCA, GRAPEVINE, TX – Bison Transport, Winnipeg, Manitoba, was named the 2014 Best Overall Fleet to Drive for, company drivers, at the Truckload Carriers Association annual meeting March 25 while Paramount Freight System, Ft. Meyers, Fla., was named the 2014 Best Fleet Overall Fleet to Drive For, Owner Operators.
These two fleets were tops in driver and owner-operator survey conducted by the Truckload Carriers Association. Twenty fleets made the top in the survey with Bison and Paramount ranking highest.
The award is based on company driver or owner-operator nominations. Next, nominated fleets must complete a corporate questionnaire that collect information about programs the companies are involved in re: drivers or owner-operators. A corporate interview follows, and finally, a selection of drivers and owner-operators is surveyed about their experiences with the nominated fleet.
Also among the 20 top-ranked fleets this year were: Brian Kurtz Trucking, Breslau, Ontario; Central Oregon Trucking, Redmond, Ore.; D.J. Knoll Transport, Emerald Park, Saskatchewan; Fremont Contract Carriers, Fremont, Neb; FTC Transportation, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Gordon Trucking, Pacific, Wash.; Grammer Industries, Grammer, Ind.; Grand Island Express, Grand Island, Neb.; Halvor Lines, Superior, Wisc.; Kriska Holdings, Prescott, Ontario; Landstar System, Jacksonville, Fla.; Load One, Taylor, Mich.; Motor Carrier Services, Northwood, Ohio; Prime, Inc., Springfield, Mo.; Sue Vinje Trucking, Superior, Wash.; TimeLine Logistics International, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; TransPro Freight Systems, Milton, Ontario and Trimac Transpiration, Calgary, Alberta/Houston, Texas.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Chicago 30-Hour Tie-Up for Buffett’s Trains Slows Coal Freight
Article thanks to and written by Mario Parker and Eliot Caroom Apr 11, 2014 1:16 PM MT Links provided:

Come to the west side of Chicago to find out why a power plant in Michiganis short of coal and a biodiesel maker in Brewster, Minnesota, can’t get enough grain.
The answer is found near Western Avenue, where rail cars from Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), the largest U.S. publicly traded ethanol producer, rest idle on the track above the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway. A short drive away a burnt orange, yellow and black locomotive from Warren Buffett’s BNSF railway sits on an overpass as motor traffic is snarled below.
They can’t move because increasing oil production from North Dakota’s Bakken field, a record grain crop and unprecedented cold weather overwhelmed the U.S. railroad system. In part because of transport delays, coal inventories were down 26 percent in January from a year ago. A quarter of all U.S. freight rail traffic passes through Chicago, or 37,500 rail cars each day. The trip through the city can take more than 30 hours.
“Utilities are having a tough time getting the coal that they already purchased,” Ted O’Brien, vice president at Doyle Trading Consultants LLC, a Grand Junction, Colorado-based coal analytics company, said in a March 14 interview. “It would be a feeding frenzy if they had the transportation to get it.”

Coal Jumps

Transport snarls are one reason coal on the New York Mercantile Exchange has risen 5.5 percent in the past year to $60.48 a ton as of yesterday. Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal has jumped 26 percent to $13.05 a ton. Power-plant demand for the fuel is forecast to increase 4.9 percent to the highest level since 2011. Utilities had about 132 million tons of thermal coal, used to generate electricity, in inventory in January, the lowest since 2006, data from the Energy Department’s analytical arm show.
Coal producers including the Western Coal Traffic League, whose members are shippers of coal mined west of the Mississippi River, point at inconsistent rail service as the primary culprit and railroads put the blame on Chicago. The group asked on March 24 that the U.S. Surface Transportation Board institute a proceeding to address BNSF’s coal service in the region.
BNSF said in a response to the agency that it plans to spend $5 billion this year on service. “As these resources come on line, service will gradually improve,” it said in a March 25 letter.

Untangling Tie-Ups

The railroad will need the rest of this year to untangle the train tie-ups in the corridor that serves the Bakken field, BNSF Chief Executive Officer Carl Ice said in an April 2 interview. He said the line deployed 300 additional crew members to its northern region and plans to add 500 locomotives and 5,000 rail cars to ease the congestion.
The tie-ups at BNSF will be worked out in time to handle the next harvest and it plans to increase velocity through Chicago, Robert Lease, vice president for service design and performance, said at an STB hearing on rail service yesterday in Washington.
Jeff Wallace, vice president of fuel services at Southern Co. (SO) in Atlanta told the STB March 6 that he surveyed 13 utilities and they said rail service has struggled to respond to demand and that some are running out of coal.
Midwest Energy Resources Company, a subsidiary of DTE Energy Co. (DTE), and responsible for feeding coal to the utility’s power plants in Michigan, has had problems getting rail deliveries from the Powder River Basin, Robert Sarvela, the company’s director of transportation and marketing, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Slow Deliveries

Other commodity producers have voiced similar concerns. Ethanol futures last month reached $3.517 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest level in more than seven years.
“There’s collective sentiment about inefficient turn-around times on rail cars,” said Mark Ruyack, a manager at StarFuels Inc., a Jupiter, Florida-based alternative energy broker, in an April 4 telephone interview.
Minnesota Soybean Processors, a biodiesel company, said that rail service has been so inconsistent that it has had to trim operations in Brewster.
“We’re two to three weeks behind,” said Taryl Enderson, the plant’s general manager in an interview on March 5. “We’re at 75 percent” capacity, he said.
Grain handlers say their business is a casualty of the shale boom. As horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing made the U.S. the world’s biggest shale producer, shipments by rail grew 74 percent in 2013 from 2012, American Association of Railroads data show.
Oil Expansion
“What we’re concerned about is that the oil business is expanding faster than the rail company’s ability to handle it,” Steve Strege, a vice president of the North Dakota Grain Dealers Association, said in a Feb. 12 telephone interview.
Dwell times, a measure of how long loaded railroad cars sit in a railyard, averaged about 26 hours during the first quarter, up from 21 hours during the same period in 2013, AAR data show.
Trains are getting mired in Chicago’s tangle of bottlenecks, said Charles Clowdis, an IHS Global Insight analyst in Lexington, Massachusetts.
“A lot of interchange points, like Chicago, are still a mess,” he said in an interview on March 25. “Coal has come back because of the cold winter, oil by tanker is relatively new. Now all of a sudden you have all these tank cars pulling crude oil and you just can’t get cars.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Mario Parker in Chicago at; Eliot Caroom in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Stets at Philip Revzin

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

TCA panel: paying drivers by the hour a ‘scary’ thought
Story thanks to and Aaron Huff on 
On Tuesday, March 25, a fleet executive panel at the Truckload Carriers Association Annual Convention responded to the possibility of electronic logging devices (ELDs) being a Trojan horse to reform driver pay.

Plaintiff attorneys and state agencies want to use hours-of-service data collected from ELDs to make minimum wage calculations, said panelist Josh England, president and chief financial officer of C.R. England, the nation’s largest refrigerated carrier based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“It’s not accurate to be used for that purpose,” he said, explaining that fleets do not control drivers or approve and disapprove of every hour they work. Mileage-based pay motivates drivers to maximize their driving hours in a compliant fashion. By contrast, hourly pay does not give drivers more available driving time and makes them less motivated to minimize their unproductive “on-duty, non-driving” hours.
“Those hours tend to be inflated and that becomes the basis for minimum wage calculations,” he said. “That’s why we have a production-based system.”
California’s minimum wage law adds another layer of complexity. Companies that use a piece-rate compensation formula have to pay their workers separately for rest periods. Attorneys also argue that mileage-based pay does not comply with the law to cover driver work activities like fueling and detention at shipping and receiving facilities.
“The industry argues that (paying drivers by the mile) is preemptive and full of interpretation,” England said. “When you think about the production impact of paying hourly rather than by the mile that’s a scary thought.”
Driver unions and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are also leading a charge to reform driver pay as reported by CCJ.
“This industry is notorious for being able to move boundaries. Let’s hope that never happens. There are ways to do (hourly pay), but just not ways that you can do economically,” said panelist Clifton Parker, president and general manager of G&P Trucking Company, a 700-truck carrier based in Gaston, S.C.
“Our goal is to get miles on these guys,” said Jerry Moyes, chief executive officer and founder of Phoenix-based Swift Transportation Co., the largest truckload carrier in the nation with 16,000 drivers. “Mileage is a good incentive for the drivers as well as everyone in the company and I think we ought to continue to put our focus on that.”
The panel, moderated by Todd Amen, president and chief executive officer of ATBS, Inc., also discussed the future of the independent contractor model as state agencies and the Internal Revenue Service continue to ratchet up their efforts to re-classify contractors as employees to collect more payroll taxes.
Swift runs about 5,000 owner operators. The biggest challenge today is adopting its model to the rules of various states, Moyes said. England agreed that pressure is coming mostly at the state level to reclassify contractors as employees and mentioned a new law in the state of New York that classifies contractors as employees if they lease their equipment from a related company.
C.R. England has about 1,000 contractors today, he said, and does not plan to grow that segment of its business.
The panel also talked openly about a range of issues such as a focus on driver retention, management strategy, natural gas trucks, lessons learned from the recession and raising fuel taxes.
Todd Amen also asked some personal questions like why Jerry Moyes decided to acquire Swift before the recession using a leveraged buyout. Moyes said that of the $2.7 billion he took on in debt, $500 million was financed at 12.5 percent interest.
“The bad news is that my interest was a million dollars a day. The good news is that it was only five days a week,” Moyes joked. The leveraged buyout put an enormous financial strain on the company, but the lean years toughened Swift and forced changes that were necessary to keep its EBITDA earnings between $400 and $500 million en route to taking the company public in 2011.
Regarding how to fund highway infrastructure, all panel members agreed that raising the fuel tax is the best option and chided politicians for their lack of courage to garner support for the measure.
“I think we have to raise the fuel tax. It’s been probably 40 years since we’ve done it,” Moyes said. “This industry is in a position to pay more fuel taxes in my opinion. Through the fuel surcharge it is going to get passed on and I think that is the only answer.”
“The answer is fuel taxes,” England agreed. “It’s just a matter of politicians getting the will to pass the fuel tax increase. They seem to only be concerned about the next election so that hasn’t happened yet.”