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​Pennsylvania Facing Transportation Funding Shortfall

April, 2016

Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards dropped a bit of a bombshell on the state’s transportation world when she announced that her department was facing a shortfall of at least $6 billion.  

Richards, who took office in May 2015, testified before the state Senate Transportation Committee on Feb. 2 that while the previous administration had projected $34.9 million in funding over the state’s mandated 12-year plan (2015-2026), there was less than $29 billion. She has to update the plan in August as chairwoman of the 15-member Pennsylvania Transportation Commission.”

No legislation has been proposed to address the shortfall, although there is discussion in the House to move at least some of the state police’s funding out of PennDOT’s budget, which would save up to $750 million per year.

Anti-coercion rule now in effect, protects drivers from brokers, carriers threatening ‘economic harm’ 

CCJ reports, a new federal rule that implements large fines for carriers, shippers and brokers caught pressuring drivers to operate beyond federal safety regulations, such as when they’re out of hours, is now in effect, as is a new system for truckers to file complaints for alleged coercion instances with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Trailer Makers Finding Ways to Stretch 28-Footers 

While politicians, Hill aides and lobbyists worked on or against legislation that would have allowed twin 33-foot trailers on the national highway system, manufacturers and their fleet customers took note, and the trailer makers busied themselves with improving techniques for stretching 28-foot pup trailers into 33-footers.

Biden Calls for Increased Transportation Infrastructure Investment 

The Commercial Appeal, Vice President Joe Biden called for greater public investment in transportation infrastructure during a Feb. 17 visit to a logistics yard east of Memphis, Tennessee.Dignitaries in suits and railroad workers in orange vests and hard hats listened as Biden spoke after touring the Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility south of Rossville, Tennessee. Biden said America can compete well with any nation in the world in attracting business because of favorable factors ranging from fair courts to productive workers. “But guess what?” he said. “If we do not improve our infrastructure — if we do not improve it — we will not take advantage of being able to lock down for the next 40 years that we remain the best place in the world to invest.”

Driver pay rises in first quarter 

A new report shows that driver pay rose in the first quarter at a faster pace than at any time since trucking’s last peak period almost 10 years ago. This is occurring as industry capacity shrinks and the driver shortage worsens. According to the report, the average increases are about 2 cents per mile for van drivers, with higher increases for refrigerated drivers and owner-operators.

The report says that is an increase of 5.8% in a single quarter, far faster than the average annual increase between 2009 and 2013. The last time that driver pay spiked was 2004 to 2006, when freight levels surged and turnover hit records.

ATRI seeks for-hire motor carriers to share operational data 

The American Transportation Research Institute launched a data collection initiative to update the 2013 Operation Costs of Trucking report. ATRI is using a brief online survey to capture basic cost information from for-hire carriers such as driver pay, fuel costs, insurance premiums and lease or purchase payments. Carriers are asked to provide full year 2013 costs per mile and costs per hour data.

The results of this data collection, combined with previous Operation Costs of Trucking reports, will yield six full years of trucking cost information derived directly from fleet operations. This research provides carriers with an important high-level benchmarking tool and government agencies with real world data for future infrastructure improvement analyses.

For-hire motor carriers are encouraged to provide confidential operational cost data through ATRI’s survey, available online at www.atri-online.org. The results of this study will be available later this year.

Training, Outreach Key to Solving Technician Shortage 

The trucking industry has struggled for years to find enough qualified technicians to keep the nation’s commercial vehicles moving, but the key to solving that problem lies in developing the workers of tomorrow rather than recruiting from the shrinking pool of experienced technicians, maintenance executives and business leaders said. “There’s not an existing force to go out there and draw from,” Kenneth Calhoun, vice president of customer relations at Truck Centers of Arkansas, said here at the annual meeting of the Technology & Maintenance Council.

Lower Oil Prices Push Down Cross-Border Freight 

Large declines in the value of oil and other petroleum-related products during 2015 was reflected in a lower value of cross-border freight movements between the U.S. and its neighbors, according to new Transportation Department figures. The data shows the value of freight flows fell 7.2% in 2015 compared to a year earlier. That follows a 4.5% improvement in 2014 from 2013.

Atri Soliciting Trucking Industry Crash Cost Data For New Research 

Arlington, VA - The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the trucking industry’s not-for-profit research organization, today launched a new data collection initiative to create a database of motor carrier crash costs by crash type and severity. This data collection will populate ATRI research designed to enable carriers to make better informed Onboard Safety System (OSS) deployment decisions.

This request for data is targeted toward motor carriers. ATRI is also working with its insurance industry partners to complete the crash cost database.

Participating motor carriers will be asked to provide information on common crash costs such as:

• Property Damage

• Attorney and Court Costs

• Towing and Recovery Costs

This research was identified as a top priority by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee and will update a number of Onboard Safety System cost-benefit analyses that ATRI has published over the past decade.

Motor carriers interested in supporting this research initiative can access the data request form on ATRI’s website. All submitted data will be treated as confidential information and ATRI will provide a non-disclosure agreement if requested. The research will aggregate the data and no identifiable characteristics will be reported.

DOT Estimates Value of Tonnage to Rise 84% by 2045 

Transport Topics reports, according to a Department of Transportation study released March 3, the amount of freight moved by trucks in the United States will increase 44% by 2045 while its value will jump 84%. Trucks are by far the nation’s most-used freight mode, moving 64% of tonnage and 69% of its value in Total freight moved on all modes, including trucks, is projected to reach 25 billion tons with its value expected to soar to $37 billion.

Typical U.S. Worker May Get Bigger Raises Than in the Jobs Report ($) 

According to The Wall Street Journal, the wage measure featured in Friday’s jobs report may undershoot raises for the bulk of U.S. workers. The most closely watched wage figure, average hourly earnings for all employees, advanced 2.2% in February from a year earlier, the Labor Department said. According to payroll processing firm Automatic Data Processing Inc., that’s likely well less than the annual increase received by the typical U.S. worker: a full-time employee at the same company for more than a year

The Typical U.S. Worker May Get Bigger Raises Than in the Jobs Report ($) 

The Wall Street Journal reports, wage measure featured in Friday’s jobs report may undershoot raises for the bulk of U.S. workers. The most closely watched wage figure, average hourly earnings for all employees, advanced 2.2% in February from a year earlier, the Labor Department said. According to payroll processing firm Automatic Data Processing Inc., that’s likely well less than the annual increase received by the typical U.S. worker: a full-time employee at the same company for more than a year.