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Category Archives: Political

Carrier registration for 2018 fiscal year delayed indefinitely pending FMCSA notice

The carrier registration process for the 2018 fiscal year has been indefinitely delayed, according to a notice posted to the Unified Carrier Registration board’s website Friday.

The governing UCR Board of Directors has recommended that all states delay the enforcement period of 2018 registration compliance until 90 days after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes a final rule setting the 2018 registration period and an updated registration fee structure.

Registration is supposed to begin each year on Oct. 1, but a Federal Register notice issued by FMCSA last month announced that the annual registration period had been delayed until Nov. 1. The same notice announced that fees for the 2018 fiscal year would be reduced from 2017’s fee structure.

However, FMCSA’s failure to complete the formal rulemaking process regarding 2018 registration and fees has prompted a further delay in the registration period. “We regret this inconvenience and appreciate your patience,” reads the announcement from the UCR Board of Directors.

“Until further notice, please do not accept any carrier fees for the 2018 registration year,” the UCR Board told state administrators in an Oct. 27 letter. “If received prior to the final rulemaking, please return to the entity that paid the fee.”

A lawsuit filed in late September claimed the UCR Board of Directors violated federal open meetings acts by failing to notify the public of a Sept. 14 meeting, at which the UCR Board determined the 2018 fee structure and the delayed Nov. 1 registration start period.

A court agreed with the plaintiffs in the case and required the UCR Board to post to its website the minutes from the Sept. 14 meeting. However, the court said it lacked the authority to rescind the decisions made by the Board at the meeting

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Trump nominates Raymond P. Martinez to head FMCSA

President Donald Trump plans to nominate Raymond P. Martinez to run the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, according to an update posted to the White House’s website. Martinez is the current chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

For Martinez to become the official head of FMCSA, he must be confirmed by the Senate.

Martinez has served as head of New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission under Gov. Chris Christie since 2010. Prior, he was commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Martinez has also held positions as the Assistant General Counsel for the Long Island Power Authority and as Deputy U.S. Chief of Protocol and Diplomatic Affairs for the U.S. State Department, according to his bio on New Jersey’s website.

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IANA Panel Agrees Transportation Needs Are Dire, But They’re Not Sure About Funding

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Politicians in Washington agree on the dire need to modernize the ports, railroads and highways in the United States, but the “how do we pay for it” question sparks a debate between Democrats and Republicans.

At the Intermodal Association of North American exposition here, stakeholders discussed two funding ideas that are already the buzz on Capitol Hill: taxes and public-private partnerships.

“Our funding stream for infrastructure, especially freight movement, needs tremendous help. What we’ve relied upon primarily, the gas tax, is a nonsustainable funding stream. It will decrease as we go forward with better efficiency and less reliance on gas,” Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Ports Caucus, told members of the expo late last month. “Right now, [lawmakers] are laying out the parameters. But we haven’t dealt with the 800-pound gorilla of how we’re going to pay for all of this with sustainable funding streams.”

The federal tax on diesel is 24.4 cents a gallon. For gasoline, it’s 18.4 cents per gallon.

In June, Lowenthal introduced House Resolution 3001 — The National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act — that would institute a new 1% ground transportation tax on freight transportation on railroads or in Class 7 and Class 8 trucks. Lowenthal believes the funding stream would be more stable than the gas tax.

“We already have it on air transportation, but we don’t have that kind of thing on surface transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates it would raise a minimum of $8 billion annually,” he said.

On public-private partnerships, or P3s, there was a skepticism that the idea should be used as frequently as President Donald Trump would prefer.

“I don’t think there should be this blatant, overall, ‘let’s do P3s for the sake of doing P3s’ mentality. In certain contexts, it might not be the most efficient way to deliver a project,” said Shant Boyajian, attorney in the infrastructure group of Washington, D.C., law firm Nossaman. “Every public agency should think when doing a project what’s the most efficient way to actually deliver it and maximize the value of money.”

Lowenthal added that while public-private partnerships make sense in some cases for urban infrastructure projects, they don’t make sense in the rural areas.

When revamping the nation’s infrastructure Jones Lang LaSalle economist Walter Kemmsies noted that the design should focus on a transportation network designed for imports and exports. He argued that when the national highway system was originally built, it was prioritized towards importing based on economic conditions after World War II.

“The problem is we’ve succeeded. We have a growing global middle class, but our industries do not get access to those markets,” he said. “If we’re to rebuild our infrastructure to support our exports, that’s where the employment and wage growth comes from. Does the U.S. produce what the global consumers are buying? Yes. But are we supplying the global customer? Increasingly, no. The world market is where we’ll get our best return on investment.”

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ELD enforcement to be ‘phased in’ through April 2018

The US shipping community received a reprieve Monday from worst-case potential disruption caused by an electronic logging mandate for truck drivers that takes effect Dec. 18. An association representing state law enforcement agencies said it would postpone putting drivers out-of-service for not complying with the mandate until April 1, 2018.

“Beginning April 1, 2018, inspectors will start placing commercial motor vehicle drivers out of service if their vehicle is not equipped with the required device,” the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) said in a statement. The April 1 “effective date” for applying electronic logging device (ELD) out-of-service criteria will give truckers and shippers time to adjust to the rule with “minimal disruption to the delivery of goods.”

Starting Dec. 18, “roadside enforcement personnel will begin documenting violations on roadside inspection reports and, at the jurisdiction’s discretion, will issue citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers operating vehicles without a compliant ELD,” CVSA said in a statement. But carriers in effect will have an additional three-and-a-half months to install ELDs.

The CVSA’s action alleviates fears that thousands of truckers could be placed out of service for not having ELDs starting Dec. 18, stranding freight a week before Christmas. That holiday logistical nightmare would likely have spiked spot market rates as trucks were dispatched to rescue stranded cargo and drivers. Concern about capacity shortages is already rising.

The Aug. 28 announcement clarifies how events are likely to unfold as the mandate takes effect and gives motor carriers struggling to prepare for the requirement, which effects approximately 3 million drivers, more breathing room. “Phased-in” enforcement of the mandate also may blunt attempts to delay implementation of the rule on Capitol Hill.

“The December deadline for this important safety regulation was established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [FMCSA] in 2015 following a decade of regulatory inquiry, study, litigation, and ultimately a congressional mandate,” CVSA executive director Collin B. Mooney said in a letter to FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson.

He expressed “strong opposition” to any delay in the mandate. “Despite what opponents of the mandate may argue, the enforcement community is ready to begin enforcement of the requirement on Dec. 18,” Mooney said.

In short, truckers may receive a citation (and associated fine) if they do not have ELDs installed and operating Dec. 18, but they will not be ordered off the road and out-of-service. Information on companies and drivers that receive citations could be used by regulators to identify and investigate carriers suspected of not complying with the mandate.

Starting April 1, however, truck drivers that do not have ELDs will not drive away from a roadside inspection. They will be placed out-of-service by the state regulatory officials, roadside inspectors, and police officers represented by the CVSA, using its North American Out of Service Criteria. Someone else will have to pick up the freight being hauled by that out-of-service driver.

The electronic logging mandate is expected to have a far-reaching effect on US businesses and domestic and international supply chains, starting with a potential spike in port drayage costs. Truckload carriers and owner-operators may feel the brunt of the impact, but the advent of the ELD era could affect supply chain strategies that extend well beyond trucking procurement.

As Dec. 18 draws closer, many smaller trucking companies reportedly are far from ready to switch from paper logbooks to ELDs. A variety of groups, led by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, are seeking either an outright delay of the regulation or exemptions for specific types of trucking operations, such as drivers of rental trucks.

Companies that have not yet placed orders for ELDs may face shortages of the devices as the Dec. 18 deadline approaches. “The vendors don’t have barges sitting off the coast loaded with thousands of these devices,” John Seidl, a transportation consultant with Integrated Risk Solutions and former roadside inspector, said during an Aug. 3 JOC.com webcast.

Logistics executives, including C.H. Robinson Worldwide CEO John Wiehoff, have expressed concern that implementation of the ELD mandate in December could get “very messy.” The CVSA decision to phase in enforcement should alleviate the threat of an immediate pre-Christmas capacity snap and make a more gradual tightening of capacity over the next year more likely.

“CVSA member jurisdictions have used this phased-in approach in the past when implementing a significant change in regulatory requirements,” Mooney said in his letter. He said the CVSA board and FMCSA agreed the two-phase enforcement strategy would be the best approach and would “promote a smoother transition to the new ELD requirement.”

However, truckers, fleet operators, brokers, and shippers should not delay compliance plans. Those that do not take advantage of the “wiggle room” the phased-in approach affords may find themselves in a tight spot April 1.

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Trimble Registers FMCSA-Compliant ELD Solution

SUNNYVALE, Calif.Sept. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Trimble (NASDAQ: TRMB) announced today that its FieldMaster Logs application has been registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as a self-certified Electronic Logging Device (ELD) solution.

FieldMaster Logs adds Hours of Service (HOS) and Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) functionality as part of its robust Fleet Management portfolio. In order to prevent driver fatigue and reduce accidents, the FMCSA’s HOS rules restrict the number of hours a driver may operate his/her vehicle. Trimble’s FieldMaster Logs tracks driver activity, provides clear communication to the driver about hours remaining and gives robust reports to managers to measure their driver’s activity and availability. Using FieldMaster Log’s DVIR features ensure that drivers perform safety inspections of their vehicle and that vehicle issues are captured and communicated to the maintenance team.

Trimble’s Fleet Management portfolio offers reliable hardware and software solutions for capturing vehicle positions, tracking driver behavior and communicating with the vehicle’s engine bus to obtain diagnostic information. Monitoring these activities allows carriers to reduce fuel costs and improve driver safety.

“Trimble’s FieldMaster Logs application allows companies to improve productivity, profitability and most importantly, driver safety for our partners,” said John Cameron, general manager of Trimble’s Field Service Management Division. “We’re pleased to announce that our solution meets the FMCSA’s requirements for tracking HOS and DVIR activities, well in advance of the mandate’s deadline.”

In 2016, the FMCSA mandated that carriers who do not already have an Automatic Onboard Recording Device (AOBRD) installed on their vehicles must install a certified ELD solution by December 18, 2017. In addition, those vehicles that do have installed AOBRDs must replace them with certified ELDs by December 17, 2019.

To learn more about Trimble’s ELD options, join a webinar on Thursday, September 28 at 2:00 pm EDT. For more information or to register, visit:  http://resources.trimblepulse.com/sign-up-for-our-eld-webinar.

About Trimble’s Field Service Management Division

Trimble’s Field Service Management Division provides visibility into field and fleet operations so businesses can streamline efficiency and increase productivity. The Field Service Management suite includes Fleet Management, Work Management and Scheduling, Worker Safety and Mobility solutions that transform the effectiveness of work, workers and assets in the field. The cloud-based portfolio allows Trimble to offer customers industry-specific, enterprise-level solutions for exceptional performance and ease of use. For more information, visit:  www.trimble.com/fsm.

About Trimble

Trimble is transforming the way the world works by delivering products and services that connect the physical and digital worlds. Core technologies in positioning, modeling, connectivity and data analytics enable customers to improve productivity, quality, safety and sustainability. From purpose built products to enterprise lifecycle solutions, Trimble software, hardware and services are transforming a broad range of industries such as agriculture, construction, geospatial and transportation and logistics. For more information about Trimble (NASDAQ:TRMB), visit:  www.trimble.com.

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ELD mandate protest efforts set to stage October 3

With efforts to derail or delay the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s long-in-process electronic logging device mandate having taken yet another hit with the defeat of the House appropriations bill amendment that would have delayed the Dec. 18 deadline, some truckers are determined to raise the profile around the issue on their own. As you’ll hear in the latest Overdrive Radio podcast in players up top and below, two officially unaffiliated groups have marked Tuesday, Oct. 3 as the beginning date for staged demonstrations in Washington, D.C., with the professed support of some individual operators around the country shutting down throughout the four-to-five days following. Owner-operator Erick Engbarth, meanwhile, though not involved in either of those efforts, offered a clear distillation of objection to the mandate by owner-operators. Take a listen (more on the two groups below):

ELD or Me
Regular readers will recognize the name of the Facebook group started in mid-May by East Tennessee-based trucker singer-songwriter Tony Justice with the express purpose of firing up drivers around opposition to the ELD mandate. Very early on in the group’s history, as I reported in late May, it was settling around early October for a demonstration in the national capitol. For several weeks now, they’ve been promoting the Doswell Truck Stop in Doswell, Va., as a rally point for trucks South of D.C., the TravelCenters of America location in Jessup, Md., to the north. At Doswell, Justice reports in the podcast, shuttle vans will be on hand to transport truckers downtown, though many involved with the effort have reported plans to stay inside D.C. itself and rendezvous with the group near the White House over the dates they’ve scheduled for their demonstration: October 3-7.

Material circulating with that information lately has also encouraged those who can’t be in attendance, but who are sympathetic to the ELD or Me cause, to shut down and rally in or around their own location.

ELD or me, as you’ll hear in the podcast, is also working on getting Congressional reps’ ears directly while in the capitol, with hopes of spurring on support for Texas Congressman Brian Babin’s H.R. 3282 ELD mandate delay bill, which would extend the enforcement date two years. In the podcast, you’ll also hear from Delaware-based former small fleet owner and longtime compliance consultant Richard Wilson about the group and its efforts as well.

Justice offers advice to those preparing to come to Washington, D.C., in the podcast, and noted an information page on Facebook was in development to provide further information. You can access that page via this link, which is pretty sparse as yet.

And here’s a link directly to the 17,000-plus-member ELD  or Me Facebook group.

Catch the story of its origins in the following archived post and a past podcast in which Justice shared his reasons for leading the effort:

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Funding for freight transportation infrastructure needed to keep U.S. economy moving

By: AJOT | Aug 17 2017 at 09:37 AM | International Trade

Infrastructure is the backbone of developed nations. Our ability to move raw materials and finished products between domestic and world markets is critical to economic success. Right now, the U.S. freight transportation industry is at a crossroads and infrastructure funding is urgently needed to grow our economy. In recent years, transportation infrastructure investment has lagged, impacting the flow of goods for farmers, manufacturers, workers and consumers who must have access to the global marketplace.

This spring, an important roundtable was held in Indianapolis during national Infrastructure Week where a group of national and Midwest experts discussed the most critical issues facing America’s freight transportation system and our economy. Representatives from manufacturers, ports, steelmaking, mining, logistics, trucking, agriculture, departments of transportation, Corps of Engineers and academia shared their concerns about the urgent need for new infrastructure funding and the catastrophic consequences if we don’t act. Topics included:

U.S. infrastructure lagging behind: American Society of Civil Engineers graded U.S. infrastructure as a D+ in 2016 and estimated that 56,000 bridges are structurally deficient, while over half of our locks and dams have exceeded their design life. Meanwhile, China lifted 400 million people out of poverty by heavily investing in infrastructure.
Congestion killing productivity: Road and rail systems are carrying volumes beyond what they were designed for, which increases congestion. American Transportation Research Institute reported congested highways cost the trucking industry $63 billion in 2015 and caused 996 million hours of lost productivity. That’s equal to 362,000 trucks sitting idle for a year.
11 million jobs depend on one aging lock: U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported that if the Poe Lock failed for six months, the nation would be plunged into a recession resulting in the loss of 11 million jobs. Rebuilt in 1968, the aging lock is the only feasible passageway for raw materials to get to the U.S. steel industry, and upgrades are critical.
$66 billion needed for U.S. ports: American Association of Port Authorities has identified a need for $66 billion in federal investments for critical port-related infrastructure over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, the port industry generates $320 billion annually in taxes, supports 23 million jobs and is investing $31 billion per year in infrastructure. Currently, the harbor maintenance taxes paid by shippers are much greater than the federal funds being allocated to maintain our harbors, and that needs to change.
Indiana’s model could benefit nation: Indiana recently passed groundbreaking legislation that provides $1.2 billion in new annual funding for roads and bridges over the next 20 years. By building a strong coalition and developing a collaborative process for identifying needs and sources of funding, a statewide logistics council was able to build a comfort level with legislators and the public about the need for tax increases. Raising taxes used to be considered a “death knell” for re-elections, but that is no longer the case when it comes to infrastructure.

The answer is…

Funding is obviously needed to improve infrastructure, but securing sufficient support for the needed investing requires key components:

Speak with one voice. This is a non-partisan issue that affects all modes of transportation and essentially every type of business.
Support a comprehensive national strategy. States have taken the lead on developing highways, but a broader multimodal perspective is needed to invest wisely in a national freight system.
Act now! It would not be wise to sit idle when the U.S. President is talking about making major investments in our country’s infrastructure. The time is now.

To that end, we call upon federal, state and local leaders to make infrastructure funding a top priority so that we can take our country’s economy to the next level.

This column was jointly written by Kurt Nagle, CEO/President of the American Association of Port Authorities, and Rich Cooper, Ports of Indiana CEO and board member of AAPA, to share industry concerns about the U.S freight transportation infrastructure. We thank you for considering this op-ed.

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