Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA
PA Turnpike Reminds Motorists of 5% Toll Increase Started Jan. 8
HARRISBURG, PA… The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PA Turnpike) reminds drivers that a toll increase approved last year took effect across the highway system on Jan. 8 at 12:01 a.m. The Commission approved a 5% increase for E-ZPass and Toll By Plate customers on Aug. 2, 2022. E-ZPass drivers will continue to get the lowest rates, saving nearly 60% versus Toll By Plate. To check toll rates for travel on the PA Turnpike, visit https://www.paturnpike.com/toll-calculator.
The PA Turnpike also reminds drivers that Act 112 — a measure signed into law on Nov. 3, 2022 — is now in effect. It enables the PA Turnpike to work with PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to suspend motor-vehicle registrations of owners with four or more overdue Toll By Plate invoices or $250 or more in unpaid tolls or outstanding toll invoices. Before Act 112, registration suspensions required a higher threshold of six past-due toll invoices or $500 or more in unpaid tolls.
“This law strengthens our efforts to hold violators accountable for failure to pay,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “By far, most travelers do the right thing and pay their fair share. If you’re someone who believes there are no consequences for toll theft, we want you to know that you’re mistaken.”
If convicted, penalties for operating a vehicle with a suspended registration could include:
* a mandatory, three-month driver’s license suspension;
* fines of up to $500 plus court costs;
* auto-insurance policy cancellations and higher premiums; and
* a record of the violation on the owner’s driver history.
“Vehicle owners who think they may be at risk of having their vehicle registration suspended should take immediate action to avoid these costly consequences,” Compton said. “Contact us today to make good on any unpaid tolls before you can no longer legally operate your vehicle.”
To settle unpaid PA Turnpike tolls, call 1-877-736-6727. When prompted, say “Customer Service,” then select option 3 for Toll By Plate. Vehicle owners can use the Unpaid Invoice Lookup to check for any unpaid PA Turnpike tolls associated with their license plates. If an owner’s registration is suspended, that owner will be responsible for payment of all outstanding tolls and fees and must pay a restoration fee to PennDOT. To learn more, visit www.paturnpike.com/payyourtolls.
Prior to initiating a registration suspension, the PA Turnpike mails multiple notices. Invoices that are unresolved after 60 days are sent to a collection agency with fees added. Collection agencies pursue payment using various methods including letters, phone calls, text messages, and e-mails.
In addition, the PA Turnpike uses other measures to obtain payment, including:
* working with local district attorneys to file criminal charges against egregious scofflaws;-
* filing civil charges against those with unpaid tolls as well as civil and criminal lawsuits against commercial carriers; and
* engaging neighboring toll agencies on reciprocity agreements to provide mutual authority to pursue scofflaws in other states.
To encourage prompt payment, the PA Turnpike has made it easier to pay. The Toll By Plate invoice now includes a QR code that customers scan to pay directly from their devices. Additionally, the Turnpike partnered with a cash-payment networkenabling customers to use cash to pay invoices and replenish E-ZPass accounts at 70,000 drug, convenience, and discount stores nationwide. To pay in cash, customers select the “pay” option when accessing their account online or via the PA TOLL PAY?app. Customers must generate a pay slip — which includes a $1.50 service fee — to present to the chosen retailer.
2023 Toll Rates
As a result of the upcoming increase, the most-common toll for a passenger vehicle will increase from $1.70 to $1.80 for E-ZPass customers and from $4.10 to $4.40 for Toll By Plate customers.?
The 5% toll increase is needed to meet the PA Turnpike’s funding and capital-improvement obligations. While the Turnpike regularly outpaces national roadway standards for safety, quality and rideability, the Commission does not receive tax appropriations to operate and maintain its roadway.
For the past 15 years, under Act 44 of 2007, the PA Turnpike has been legislatively mandated to transfer more than $7.9 billion to PennDOT for highway and transit needs. While the funding obligation decreased from $450 million to $50 million per year in 2022, the PA Turnpike will be paying down the debt to finance the Act 44 mandate for years to come. The Commission’s funding plan calls for toll increases of 5% through 2025 based on current projections. Ultimately, the goal is to hold annual increases to 3% beginning in 2028.
Additionally, toll revenues fund the 24/7 operation of the toll road along with system improvements including construction of new interchanges and reconstruction and widening projects to rebuild and expand the roadway from four to six lanes.
“We recognize our customers pay a premium to travel our roadway,” Compton said. “We are committed to maintain and enhance our 82-year-old system to provide a smooth, safe customer experience during every season of the year and hour of the day.”
Compton added that PA Turnpike per-mile toll rates remain in line with rates on toll facilities across the country (see chart).
“It’s worth noting that, despite annual increases, the PA Turnpike’s per-mile toll rate is still below the national average for passenger vehicles and most commercial vehicles,” he said. “In addition, other U.S. tolling agencies have adopted our practice of annual rate increases to meet rising financial obligations.”
Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey’s Corp. and Oasis Travel Center's Dale Elks to Kick Off NATSO Connect Great Ideas! Workshop
Alexandria, VA… NATSO’s popular Great Ideas! Workshop is returning to NATSO Connect 2023. This year’s session will feature opportunities for idea sharing as well as a fireside chat with Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey’s Corp. and a former politician from Georgia, and Dale Elks, general manager of Oasis Travel Center, led by Amy Toner, executive director of the NATSO Foundation.
Education at NATSO Connect is provided by the NATSO Foundation, the research, education and public outreach subsidiary of NATSO, Inc.
Stuckey and Elks will share insights into creating and curating a unique brand-building experience and reinventing a brand when it needs a reboot. They also will dig into how operators can differentiate themselves from their competitors as well as how to make a splash on social media and effectively market on a shoestring budget.
The session will include dedicated time for independent operators to share great ideas that have helped their business as well as hear about the great ideas their peers have implemented. The Great Ideas! Workshop, which is designed to get operators’ creative juices flowing, is one of the most popular sessions at NATSO Connect.
“This highly energetic and interactive workshop is always one of the best-attended sessions at NATSO Connect. I’m especially excited to have Stephanie Stuckey and Dale Elks share their unique insights during the fireside chat,” Toner said. “It will be a great jumping off point before we transition to rounds of tableside discussions for idea sharing among attendees, inspired by the great ideas from Stephanie and Dale.”
The Great Ideas! Workshop at NATSO Connect is open to all truckstops, travel centers and sponsors. NATSO Connect, which takes place at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in the Dallas area March 7-10, 2023, is designed for travel center and truckstop owners, operators, managers, buyers and staff who want to increase their industry knowledge, gain business intelligence and see new products.
Learn more about NATSO Connect or register at www.natsoconnect.com.
Govt of Canada Announces Funding for New Green Freight Program and ZEV Awareness Initiative
TORONTO… Transport Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, on behalf of Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), today announced two new calls for proposals and availability of funding for trucking fleets through the new Green Freight Program and the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Awareness Initiative, with the aim of encouraging fleets to increase uptake in emissions reductions technologies while further reducing costs and their carbon footprint.
Calls for proposals for both programs will be open to applicants on NRCAN’s website on December 12, 2022.
A recurring ask by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), which was previously announced under the 2022 federal budget, the revised Green Freight Program will invest nearly $200 million into the trucking sector by providing funding for retrofits, including rebates for aerodynamic devices and other technologies to reduce fuel consumption from trucks already on the road. The program will also support assessments and retrofits of more vehicles and a greater diversity of fleet and vehicle types.
The newly announced ZEV Awareness Initiative will help address some of the barriers to adoption of emerging emissions reductions technologies for fleets, including a lack of hands-on experience or confidence with some of these technologies. The federal government will be providing funding for outreach, education, and capacity building projects that will ultimately help create greater industry-wide education to increase uptake of medium and heavy duty zero and low-emission vehicles across the industry.
Governments, non-profits, and other organizations could receive up to $300,000 per project, and industry led projects could receive up to $200,000 under this new initiative.
CTA is reminding members that trucking operators can still take advantage of the previously announced incentives for medium-and heavy-duty zero-emission program (iMHZEV) through Transport Canada, which will provide approximately 50% of the cost difference between traditional diesel vehicle and a zero-emission alternative.
CTA will be working with Government of Canada officials on the final details of both programs, with the Alliance releasing further details to members in the coming days.
FMCSA Pre-employment Requirement Went Into Effect January 6, 2023
On November 4, 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse published information titled “Pre-employment Investigations for Drug and Alcohol Program Violations.” The Clearinghouse notice is a reminder to certain employers regarding a change requirement that went into effect January 6, 2023. On that date, three years of violation data will become available in the Clearinghouse and a pre-employment Clearinghouse query will satisfy the requirement to investigate whether a prospective driver had previous drug and alcohol program violations, as required by 49 CFR 391.23(e). This query will also satisfy the requirements of 49 CFR 40.25.
Please be aware the Clearinghouse contains only information about a driver’s drug/alcohol testing history when employed by FMCSA-regulated employers. If an employer is considering an applicant who was employed by an employer regulated by a DOT agency other than FMCSA (such as the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, etc.), that applicant’s information would not be reported to the Clearinghouse. In these situations, the employer still is required to directly request drug and alcohol violation information from those DOT-regulated employers in accordance with 391.23(e)(4)(ii) and 40.25.
For any questions, please contact FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse at [email protected]
FHWA Announces Latest Round of Innovations Under Every Day Counts Program to Accelerate Innovation in Transportation Industry
WASHINGTON, DC… The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the latest round of transportation innovations through the Every Day Counts (EDC) Program (EDC-7). EDC is a successful state-based program that helps identify and rapidly deploy proven, yet underutilized, innovations that facilitate greater efficiency in project delivery at the state, local and Tribal levels, saving time, money, and other resources to ensure our infrastructure is built better, faster, smarter, and more equitably. As part of the White House’s Action Plan for Accelerating Infrastructure, the Department of Transportation recently committed to expanding the EDC model to more modes of transportation. This year’s innovations are being promoted by FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and will improve project delivery across highway, rail, and transit agencies at the state and local level.
“Americans get the best value out of innovations in transportation when they are broadly shared among communities so that good ideas spread across the country,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With today’s announcement, these innovations will be more rapidly deployed to save lives, protect taxpayer dollars, reduce carbon emissions, and ensure more families, workers, and businesses benefit from the Biden-Harris Administration’s generational investments in our nation’s infrastructure.”
“For over 10 years the Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts program has rapidly deployed proven technologies and processes that can be implemented at the national scale,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “We are pleased to announce this latest round of EDC innovations to build on the program’s success with a focus toward advancing key priorities under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
EDC-7 innovations will improve safety for all road users, build a sustainable infrastructure for the future and grow an inclusive workforce. Notably, some of the EDC-7 innovations were chosen with multimodal state transportation agencies in mind and are of interest to transit and rail agencies.
“Many of the innovations announced today as part of this forward-thinking program will help make the nation’s transit systems safer, greener, and more equitable,” said Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “We look forward to promoting the findings from these initiatives — from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to leveling the playing field for small businesses to compete for design-build contracts — throughout the transit industry.”
EDC Round 7 Innovations:
Nighttime Visibility for Safety: The nighttime crash fatality rate is three times the daytime rate. Enhancing visibility along corridors, intersections, and pedestrian crossings can help reduce fatalities. This initiative promotes traffic control devices and properly designed lighting to improve safety for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and people who use public transportation and passenger rail services.
Next-Generation Traffic Incident Management: Technology for Saving Lives: Over six million crashes a year in the U.S. put responders and other vulnerable road users at risk. Next-Generation Traffic Incident Management programs promote emerging technologies such as emergency vehicle lighting and queue warning solutions. These and other tools can advance safety and operations to help keep crash responders safe and mitigate traffic impacts after a crash.
Integrating Greenhouse Gas Assessment and Reduction Targets in Transportation Planning: Transportation is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S. This initiative provides resources to help agencies, regardless of transportation mode, quantify greenhouse gases, and set goals to decrease motor vehicle, construction, and life-cycle emissions through planning and project development.
Enhancing Performance with Internally Cured Concrete (EPIC): Cracking in concrete is a limiting factor in achieving long-term concrete performance. Internal curing mitigates shrinkage cracking and has the potential to substantially extend the service life of concrete bridge decks, benefitting travel by motor vehicle and public transit, as well as enhancing the performance of pavements and repairs.
Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for Sustainable Project Delivery: Construction materials such as concrete and asphalt have environmental impacts during their life cycle, whether the transportation facility supports passenger vehicles, transit vehicles, or railroad cars. EPDs document those impacts. This tool helps States support procurement decisions and quantify embodied carbon reductions using life cycle assessments for sustainable pavements.
Rethinking Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) in Design-Build: Many design-build contracts do not adequately provide opportunities for disadvantaged businesses. New practices are available to support the effective integration of program requirements to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete for design-build contracts for highway and transit projects.
Strategic Workforce Development: The demand for highway workers is growing under the new investment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and emerging technologies require new skills. This innovation is being implemented by 32 states, with six of those states having institutionalized Strategic Workforce Development as the way to promote career opportunities in transportation. A continued focus on taking this nationwide will help stakeholders across the country improve their ability to identify, train, and place highway construction workers. Innovative approaches will be informed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Labor to foster a diverse and skilled workforce to support infrastructure projects. The focus will expand to rural and Tribal communities to increase career opportunities.
Every two years since 2011 FHWA has worked with State transportation departments, local governments, Tribes, private industry, and other stakeholders to identify a new set of innovations to champion that merit accelerated deployment. The first six rounds of EDC have yielded several innovative project delivery technologies, including prefabricated bridge systems, design-build contracting, project bundling, e-construction (paperless contracting), safety initiatives and more.
The program’s success is based largely on FHWA’s close collaboration with states and local partners through a process whereby states select innovations they want to pursue, then establish performance goals for the level of implementation and adoption they want to reach over the upcoming two-year cycle. Once the selection and performance goals are finalized, they then begin to implement the innovations with the support and assistance of diverse technical deployment teams established for each innovation, including federal, state, and local experts.
Accelerated Innovation Demonstration and State Transportation Innovation Council Incentive programs administered by FHWA complement EDC by providing additional funding and resources to help the surface transportation community accelerate the adoption and standardization of innovative technologies in their programs.
Previous innovations that have been identified and rapidly deployed in EDC-1 through EDC-6 include:
Accelerated Bridge Construction: A suite of technologies, including innovative planning and construction methods, and designs and materials, that allow for accelerated construction of bridges, significantly reducing traffic delays and road closures and often reducing project costs. Since October 2010, transportation agencies have designed or constructed more than 2,500 replacement bridges using these technologies.
Road Diets: Innovative roadway reconfigurations that can help improve safety for motorists and non-motorists on mixed-use streets by reducing vehicle speeds, calming traffic, and freeing space for alternative modes of travel such as biking and transit. A classic Road Diet typically involves converting an existing four-lane, undivided roadway segment to a three-lane segment consisting of two through lanes and a center, two-way left-turn lane. Road diets can reduce collisions, increase mobility and access, and improve a community’s quality of life.
Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP): The application of cost-effective countermeasures with known safety benefits such as refuge islands at pedestrian crossings and rectangular rapid flashing beacons that can help reduce pedestrian fatalities at both uncontrolled and signalized crossing locations. With pedestrian fatalities a continued concern nationwide, this innovation is helping communities improve pedestrian safety and making crosswalks and pedestrians more visible to drivers.
For more information on FHWA’s Every Day Counts program, please visit https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/
CTA Welcomes Long Awaited ELD Mandate; Here is What Jan Enforcement Looks Like
TORONTO, CANADA… Truck drivers and commercial trucks – already safest vehicles on Canadian roadways – will soon become even safer in most provinces as the long-awaited introduction of the third-party ELD mandate comes into force on January 1.
The rule applies to all federally regulated carriers and provincially regulated carriers in some jurisdictions, that are already required to operate a logbook.
“CTA applauds those provinces that are set to begin enforcement on January 1. Electronic logbooks change nothing about the current hours of service rules, but simply make enforcement of the rules more robust. Compliance is coming for fleets and shippers who have been operating outside of the rules,” said CTA president Stephen Laskowski.
CTA is encouraging the supply chain to review and consider the impact of hours of service compliance on routes and shipments.
The provincial trucking associations that form CTA have compiled a chart which explains what to expect in each jurisdiction as of January 1. Click here.
“In addition to improving public safety, third-party certified ELDs will also provide more efficiencies for drivers and fleets versus paper logbooks. Everyone wins – the driver, carriers, and the motoring public. The only ones who will be negatively impacted by ELDs are fleets and operators who have been breaking the law,” said Geoff Wood, CTA Senior VP, Policy.
For more information on specific provincial rules, please contact the relevant association directly.
CTA: Government of Canada Helps Secure Supply Chain by Including Trucking Sector into Express Entry
TORONTO… Nearly everything in our homes and workplaces has been on a truck at least once. The international and domestic economy relies on trucking – and truck drivers – to keep supply chains secure and moving.
To maintain the stability of the supply chain, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the Government have been jointly communicating the importance of addressing the truck driver shortage in Canada, which worsened throughout the pandemic and was exacerbated by the expansion of the Driver Inc scheme.
The recent release of the Supply Chain Task Force’s recommendations, and the recent fall economic statement contain significant commitments to work with the trucking sector in relieving supply chain constraints.
The announcement by Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, confirming IRCCs implementation of the new National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 for immigration programs and trucking’s entrance in Express Entry programs, builds on this momentum by allowing the trucking industry much better access to drivers who want to work in our industry and settle in Canada permanently.
“Every sector of the Canadian economy relies on the trucking industry,” said CTA president Stephen Laskowski. “Today’s announcement by Minister Fraser will help secure supply chains – from agriculture to manufacturing – by providing trucking companies access to an international workforce that was not previously available to our sector.”
CTA looks forward to working with Minister Fraser to ensure that our sector has the access it needs to effectively tap into the international labour pool.
“It is equally important that, together, we ensure this new workforce arriving in Canada is employed by companies that will properly explain to them – and protect – their labour rights; ensure they operate safe, compliant, vehicles; and create an opportunity where their families can thrive and enjoy the benefits of working and living in our great nation,” said Laskowski.
Canada's ELD Progressive Enforcement Period Changes
WASHINGTON, DC… Effective Jan. 1, 2023, inspectors and roadside enforcement personnel in Canadian provinces and territories may begin documenting electronic logging device (ELD) violations and issuing citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers operating vehicles without a Canadian-compliant ELD.
Each Canadian province and territory has jurisdictional regulations for applying the ELD rule to its regulated carriers. Therefore, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance recommends that drivers and motor carriers check with each Canadian province and/or territory they may travel in or through to verify each jurisdiction’s requirements.
The ELD mandate does not change any of Canada’s underlying hours-of-service requirements.
ATA Truck Tonnage Index Decreased 2.5% in November - Index 0.8% Above November 2021
Washington, DC… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 2.5% in November after slipping 1.2% in October. In November, the index equaled 114.7 (2015=100) versus 117.6 in October.
“For-hire truck tonnage saw the largest single monthly decrease in November since the start of the pandemic and a total drop of 3.7% in October and November,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The decreases match anecdotal reports of a soft fall freight season as well as a slowing goods-economy generally. Housing-related freight is particularly weak.”
October’s decline was revised up from our November 22 press release.
Compared with November 2021, the SA index increased 0.8%, which was the fifteenth straight year-over-year gain, but the smallest over that period. In October, the index was up 4% from a year earlier. Year-to-date through November, compared with the same period in 2021, tonnage was up 3.7%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 114.6 in November, 4.6% below the October level (120.2). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.93 billion tons of freight in 2021. Motor carriers collected $875.5 billion, or 80.8% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.
ATA Statement on EPA's Heavy-Duty NOx Rule
Washington, DC… American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear issued the following statement on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle NOx Standards final rule:
"ATA is reviewing the details of this new rule and assessing its impact on our members. While truck engine emission standards are directed at manufacturers, it is the purchasing decisions of fleets that ultimately determine their success or failure.
"Since 1988, the trucking industry has cut NOx emissions by more than 98%—demonstrating our commitment to protecting the environment. Continued progress on this front will depend on standards that are technologically feasible with equipment that is cost-permitting and reliable for fleets.
"ATA remains extremely concerned over the potential growth of state patchworks of NOx emission standards that will create havoc for an industry that operates across local, state, and international boundaries. We hope EPA and the California Air Resources Board will ultimately agree to a uniform, single standard that best achieves our nation’s environmental goals."