Down, Under, and Through

Have you ever heard the saying that “there’s nowhere to go but up?”  Well, with highway construction that is not always the case.  In fact, sometimes down is the best direction – down and under, that is. 

North End of Massey Tunnel
Midday Traffic, Massey Tunnel

In the September 2013 edition of Woodward Publishing‘s Western Trucking News, I wrote about the George Massey Tunnel project in British Columbia and the Washington State Route 99 through (err, under) Seattle.  Both quite interesting.

Read the story by Clicking Here (pdf).

HOS Impacts Both US and Canada

The US’ new Hours of Service rules for truck drivers went into full effect on July 1, 2013, and there are very real implications for drivers on both sides of the border (US / Canada).

CLICK HERE to read the full story in the July/Aug 2013 Edition of Desi Trucking Magazine.

 

Special thanks to Chett Winchell of C.W. Enterprises for his commentary on this topic.

 


Interestingly, the article is also translated into Punjabi:

Online Education – Good for Drivers

As a long time college instructor, both in traditional and on-line settings, I am an advocate for easy and affordable access to education.

There is simply no reason an over-the-road truck driver (or anyone for that matter) should not be able to earn a college degree, certificate, or even just take a class or two for personal interest/knowledge.

On-line education offers the flexibility that over-the-road truck drivers need, thus making it very possible to acquire any education a person might want.

My latest feature in Western Trucking News from Canada’s Woodward Publishing talks a little about online education and how an over-the-road driver might benefit from it.

READ THE STORY HERE

Special thanks to my friends at Selkirk College, GPRC, and Rasmussen College.


Border Crossing By Ferry

What a great way to cross the US – Canadian border if you are a truck driver.

My latest feature in Western Trucking News profiles the M.V. Coho Ferry which connects Vancouver Island (Victoria, BC) to the US (Port Angeles, WA).

Having personally enjoyed the amenities of the ferry, I can vouch for its comfort.  Having spoken with truck drivers and trucking company managers about the ferry, I can say that this is an effective way to go to or from Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

Read the full story by clicking here (PDF).


Driver Shortage In Canada?

Driver Training at Saferway
Driver Training at Saferway Driver Training School in British Columbia, Photo Courtesy of Randy Eckert

In the US we have heard for years about the driver shortage.  But, what about in Canada – are they experiencing the same issues?  That’s the topic of one of my latest columns for Western Trucking News.

Is the story really in different on either side of the border?

Article Highlights:

    • A new report (February 2013)  by the Conference Board of Canada (CBC) suggests that due to aging in the driver workforce and a growing demand from trucking services, “the for hire trucking industry can expect to face a driver supply and demand gap of nearly 25,000 drivers by 2020 in a business-as-usual scenario.” But, it could become worse if labor productivity is lower in future years.
    • A 2012 report by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage identified truck drivers as the most important asset of the industry and that respect would go a long way in helping with recruitment and tenure.
    • Randy Eckert, President of Saferway Driver Training School in British Columbia says the demand for new truck drivers is palpable.
    • Eckert suggests that the standards are too low, the testing at the Drivers Service Centers is too low, and the training standards are too low.
    • North America has known of the driver shortage problem for many years, yet it is as if the governments have had their heads shoved in the sand

READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE


Hours of Service Questions

It’s fascinating how the new US Hours of Service rules are impacting drivers across North America.  Quite frankly, there is significant concern about the financial impact to drivers of the new rule.  And, that concern is not just relegated to American drivers.  Interestingly, that’s the topic of my latest column in Canada’s Western Trucking News, where I try to get some clarification.

US DOT
US DOT Headquarters

Read the column, which includes commentary from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and an expert in DOT rules, Chett Winchell of Your Compliance Center.

 

 

 

 


Diesel Price Outlook

My latest article in Canada’s Western Trucking News (March 2013) addresses the outlook for diesel prices.




The good news – barring any major global events affecting oil supply, diesel prices should remain fairly steady with only moderate increases over time.  There are some indications diesel fuel prices could even decrease in the short term (though I would not hold my breath for that to happen).

Read the column by clicking here.

 

 

Canada’s Pipeline Controversy

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project appears to offer an impressive upside for the Canadian trucking industry and North America’s energy and economic future.  However, not unlike the Keystone XL Pipeline Project controversy I addressed last week (calling on President Obama and his Administration to approve it), Canada is also experiencing it’s own share of pipeline controversy.

Click here to read my feature about the project in the February 2013 Western Trucking News, a Canadian trucking industry publication from Woodward Publishing.

Kitimat Terminal



On a personal note, I’m honored to have this new opportunity to contribute to Western Trucking News.

Keystone XL – Approve It!

Keystone Oil Pipeline Contruction - North Dakota; Copyright © TransCanada Corporation. All rights reserved.

The TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline Project had been the source of much controversy during President Obama’s first term.  Opposed by environmental groups, touted by the energy industry, the debate is endless.  The Governor of Nebraska had to address to pressures from environmental interest groups in 2011 and ultimately denied a pipeline siting permit for the project that stalled the remainder of the planning.

Beyond state siting issues, the US State Department must also issue a Presidential Permit for the project (because it crosses international borders).  The President has enjoyed the cover of the state of Nebraska’s delay since 2011, but that delay is now over.  On January 22, 2013, Governor Dave Heineman gave approval for the pipeline’s siting through Nebraska.  The new path avoids the controversial “Sand Hills” area of Nebraska.

Read the Governor’s Approval Letter by clicking here.
Read TransCanada’s Statement on the Governor’s Approval by clicking here.


On the same day Gov. Heineman approved the pipeline, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked if we could expect the project to move forward now.  Carney largely avoided the answer, suggesting these things take time, and reminding folks that the Obama Administration blames the Nebraska Governor for the delay.  “One of the things that delayed or postponed this process had to do with the opposition of the Nebraska Governor and others in that state to the route that Keystone was proposed to take, the pipeline was proposed to take,” said Carney.  The “others” mentioned by Carney will likely oppose the pipeline regardless.

   If the President’s State of the Union is any indication, it’s unlikely he will move quickly on giving final approval for the pipeline.  The only comments related to energy security or independence in that address were directed at “green energy.”  “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise,” said Obama.

Read the President’s State of the Union Address by clicking here.

What the President and others in the Administration need to understand is that no matter how promising new energy technologies might be in the future, the United States and the globe are largely a carbon based society.  To do anything significantly different that would truly eliminate the need for carbon based energy will take much larger investments and infrastructure than most are willing to discuss.  That, in part, is why we need to continue to look at new energy technologies while still working to become more energy independent in the current reality.

  We need the Keystone XL Pipeline Project to be approved.  As such, I send kudos to my old friend, U.S. Senator John Barrasso and about 52 other Senators for sending a letter to President Obama encouraging him to “finish the review process and approve the Keystone XL pipeline by the Administration’s own March 2013 deadline.”

Read the text of the letter by clicking here.

  The letter concludes, “After four and a half years of stude, we urge you to stick to your deadlines.  The American people need a timely decision on the Presidential Permit.”

  I would argue that the American people not only need a timely decision, but they DESERVE a timely decision.  Far too often government delays important decisions in the name of appeasing certain interest groups.  Any delay in approving this project only hurts the American people.  The American people deserve the 5000-6000 temporary construction jobs; the American economy deserves the private sector investment of $20+ billion; states and communities along the pipeline route deserve the $585 million in new taxes; and the nation deserves strengthened energy security with the pipelines 1.1million barrels per day capacity (with contracts to support it).

Learn the facts by clicking here.

   Mr. President, approving the pipeline is good for America!


Good Show – TRUXPO

Last week at this time I was attending TRUXPO 2012, billed as Western Canada’s largest trucking and logistics show in Abbotsford, BC.  The show was very good and well organized.  It was your typical trucking show – nice shiny new trucks, vendors of all varieties, and opportunities to job hunt for those who wanted to.

My plan was to write a little story about the show and have it published on one of the sites I write for, but the organizers of the show were unable (hopefully not unwilling) to comment.  So, I decided to just pass on the article and move forward with the multitude of ideas I came up with from the show and get in touch with many of the folks I networked with.

But then I read the press release (http://www.masterpromotions.ca/Previous-Events/truxpo-2012/)  summarizing the show and begin to wonder if perhaps the reason there was no comment was the differing perception I would have of the show.  Again, it was a good show.  But 8500 visitors?  Hmmmm, there must have been a mad rush at the end.  The ‘Recruiting Here’ feature was nice, but there were very few booths actually recruiting.  The outdoor exhibit may have grown this year, but it makes one wonder what it was like in prior years.  There’s nothing wrong with putting a positive spin on things, but from what I experienced this is quite the spin.

The one area that really stood out as a success was the seminar portion.  The one’s I saw were well attended and the presenters were very good.  Whatever the organizers did to promote those or choose those is perhaps the one area other shows should follow.

I still can’t get past the attendance figure provided – though that is “registered attendees” and perhaps not actual attendees.  I spoke with multiple vendors who were a little concerned about the lack of attendance, even questioning the location of the event – a very nice community, but well off the beaten path.

During the show itself the show manager was less interested in what my perceptions of the show might be and how he could help develop a story and more interested in making certain I wasn’t really there to sell ads (I’ve never been a salesman and have no desire to be one).

Again, I had a very enjoyable and informative time at TRUXPO 2012 and am glad I experienced it.  It’s always beneficial for me to see new technologies and talk to those in the industry about the issues/concerns they have.  This is a good show worth attending for those who make it to Abbotsford.  Hopefully it will continue to grow and become everything the press release said it was this year.