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Transportation News Bulletins - LTL and TL

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UCR Comments Extended
Friday, 18 September 2009 00:00

Following complaints from the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended the comment period on the proposed increase in Unified Carrier Registration fees.

However, it’s only a 10-day extension, with comments now due no later than September 28.

The FMCSA wants to more than double the UCR fees, meaning small trucking operations would see the cost go from $39 to $87. For the biggest fleets, the cost would increase by more than $40,000 dollars.

The UCR fees pay for state traffic safety programs and for training U.S. DOT officers.

To submit a comment, go to

Land Line Magazine, 9/18/2009

Highway Department Using Twitter to Relay Road Conditions
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 00:00

The Arkansas State Highway & Transportation Department is now Twittering.

The department said Tuesday that it has begun using the Internet service Twitter to relay road conditions.

Using Twitter, in addition to the traditional news media, will help it keep motorist informed of up-to-theminute road conditions such as lane closures, traffic accidents and weather delays, the department said.

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables users to send and read messages. To follow the Highway Department's posting,, 9/16/2009

DOT Sets Agenda for Distracted-Driving Summit
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 00:00

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood Wednesday released the detailed agenda for DOT’s Distracted Driving Summit, scheduled for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in Washington.

The summit will bring together leader and experts in interactive discussions to discuss issues such as research, regulations and the effects of distracted driving, DOT said in a statement.

The five panels will each focus on different topics: data, research, technology, policy and outreach.

Each panel will have one moderator and four or five speakers representing different interests, organizations, government agencies or other groups concerned with the issue.

The summit will take place at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington.

Click here for the full agenda and summit information (DOT Web site).

Transport Topics, 9/16/2009

Trucking Groups Ask FMCSA for More UCR Comment Time
Monday, 14 September 2009 00:00

Less than a week after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed more than doubling registration fees for motor carriers and brokers, American Trucking Associations and several other groups urged the agency to extend its short 15-day comment period.

ATA and four other groups said the increase in fees associated with the Unified Carrier Registration agreement “will be highly controversial. Many parties will wish to comment . . . [and] FMCSA should welcome comments on it.”

The organizations—the National Private Truck Council, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Transportation Intermediaries Association and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.—represent the five industry-held seats on the UCR board.

FMCSA on Sept. 3 proposed to more than double UCR fees for 2010. The charge for the smallest fleets and brokers would rise to $87 from $39 and jump to $83,412 from $37,500 this year for fleets of more than 1,000 trucks. The comment period expires Sept. 18, after which FMCSA will have to issue a final rule to allow states to collect fees.

In a Sept. 8 letter, the organizations said that the brief comment period and the proposal’s release close to the Labor Day holiday “will serve to preclude many motor carriers and allied businesses, especially smaller ones, from submitting comments.”

A spokesman was unable to confirm that FMCSA had received ATA’s request, adding the “agency is prohibited from commenting on matters that are currently in rulemaking.”

Rick Schweitzer, general counsel for NPTC, told Transport Topics he believed an extension in the comment period would delay implementation of the fees for 2010.

“You can’t have the fees go into effect until you have a final rule,” he said.

“It would definitely put off our mailing to the industry,” said Bill Leonard, a member of the UCR board and director of the New York State Department of Transportation’s motor-carrier compliance bureau.

The delay, he said, would be problematic for states and the UCR board as they try to implement the fees.

“We’re desperately trying to get this onto a calendar year program. So, it is to our benefit, as well as the industry’s, to get this in sync, and that makes it so much more clean as enforcement goes,” Leonard said. “I hate reaching out . . . saying, can we do an enforcement bulletin saying, ‘Please start enforcing the 2010 on Feb. 13.’ . . . Enforcement likes it clean also.”

Rick Holcomb, senior vice president and general counsel for ATA, said the effect of an extension would “not necessarily” delay enforcement of the fees.

“The purpose of the request is only to give those questioning the justification for such a large increase sufficient time to properly challenge that increase in sufficient detail,” he said.

Holcomb said that, despite the brief comment period, he thought FMCSA “has an open mind on the issue, and we look forward to providing them with information on why the increase is not justified.”

Schweitzer, however, said he thought the short comment period indicated the agency already had made up its mind.

“It certainly seems like they are trying to rush this through so that they can get the bills out for next year,” he said.

Leonard said he thought the brief comment period was an effort by FMCSA to “live up to the statutory requirement of them doing it within 90 days . . . versus them making up their minds as to what the final fee structure should be.”

Created in 2005, UCR was intended to replace the Single-State Registration System used by states to fund commercial vehicle enforcement activities. SSRS collected a $10-per-truck fee from for-hire interstate carriers.

UCR, initially supported by ATA and other industry groups, aims to reduce the burden on for-hire fleets by also collecting fees from private carriers and non-asset-based entities such as forwarders and brokers.

However, the program has been plagued by undercollection of fees and has yet to hit the required revenue targets set in the law that created it, leading industry groups to call for its abolition.

By press time, only a handful of comments had been placed in the docket, but almost all decried the fee increase.

One comment came from Northern Steel Transport in Toledo, Ohio.

“I am astounded yet again at another massive fee increase for all motor carriers that have so far survived this economy is going to have pay in the name of ‘state motor carrier safety programs,’ ” wrote Sandra Moore, director of business development. She said that Northern Steel’s “140-truck fleet will be required to go from paying $3,840 a year to over double that to $8,370.”

Transport Topics, 9/14/2009

Trucking Loses 4,000 Jobs in August As Unemployment Rate Reaches 9.7%
Monday, 14 September 2009 00:00

The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 9.7% in August, the highest rate in 26 years, though the increases have moderated in many fields in recent months, including trucking, the Department of Labor said in its monthly report.

The net loss in jobs in August numbered 216,000, while jobs in trucking dropped by about 4,000 positions, Labor reported Sept. 4.

The department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that jobs in “truck transportation” have fallen from 1.39 million in August last year to 1.26 million this August, a 10.4% decrease.

The decrease from July of about 4,000 workers amounted to a 0.4% decline, BLS said.

John Eddlemon, a BLS economist, said that while Labor does not predict the future, “the trend in the loss of jobs in trucking has definitely been down.”

“Trucking was losing 18,000 jobs a month in the first months of this year, which dropped to about 8,000 a month in late spring,” Eddlemon told Transport Topics. “Some 5,500 jobs were lost in the industry from June to July.”

He explained that Labor measures everyone employed in each industry, which he said in trucking could include secretaries and other inside office workers, but “most are probably truck drivers.”

Analysts agreed that despite the decline in the rate of job losses in trucking, they did not see any prospects of near-term growth.

“This may be one the first recessions where trucking is not a leading indicator of recovery, because inventories remain so high,” John Coughlari, BLS transportation analyst, told TT.

“We have no idea what will happen, but it appears that trucking companies will make do with less workers until they see a clear trend to recovery,” he added.

Other analysts agreed.

“For-hire trucking shed 4,000 jobs in August, which was the smallest reduction in a year and fits with freight volume trends—that is, modest improvement,” Bob Costello, chief economist of American Trucking Associations, told TT.

“I don’t believe fleets are going to add any jobs until they are 100% confident that freight is truly recovering,” he added. “In fact, the first step is to better utilize the trucks and drivers that they still have before adding new drivers.”

“For the trucking industry, the job losses imply the industry is still rationalizing capacity in response to the steep downturn in freight volumes,” Chris Brady, president of truck research firm Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting, Manhasset, N.Y., told TT.

“The downturn in freight volumes has stabilized and is in the early stages of a recovery,” Brady added.

“This recovery will become more broad-based over time [but] CMVC predicts sluggish consumer spending for an extended period of time, since household wealth has decreased by $12 trillion. Sluggish consumer spending implies a sluggish freight recovery,” he said.

The Labor Department report said Augusts’ overall 0.3 percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate brought the total of unemployed workers to 14.9 million.

“Since the recession began in December of 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 7.4 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 4.8 percentage points,” the report said.

Christopher Goodman, another BLS economist, told TT that the current unemployment rate was the highest since June 1983, when it registered 10.1%.

The report cautioned that many of those who were counted as part-time workers were in that position only because their full-time jobs were cut back.

“In August, the number of persons working part time for economic reasons was little changed at 9.1 million,” the report said.

“These individuals indicated that they were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job,” said the report.

The report showed that manufacturers eliminated 63,000 jobs in August; the financial sector shed 28,000 jobs; professional and business services cut 22,000; federal, state and local government agencies eliminated 18,000 jobs, with the U.S. Postal Service responsible for 9,600; and retailers cut 9,600 jobs.

“The economy is no longer detonating, but we are still losing jobs,” David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc. in Toronto, told Bloomberg News. “It’s going to be a very tough environment for the consumer.”

Transport Topics, 9/14/2009

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