Changing lanes

| July 05, 2007

“The general consensus was that shippers would resist,” she says, and it’s likely that toll charges get “layered into” the overall rate.

But the Reason Foundation’s Robert Poole thinks customers would ante up in the spirit of improved productivity. “When I talk to shipper groups, they say, ‘Holy smoke, we need better performance, we’re willing to pay,’” he says.

An independent who negotiates directly with shippers should take an itemized approach when explaining toll rates to customers, says Chris Brady of Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting. “When the shipper receives the bill, at least he has a greater understanding of what’s there,” he says. “He might not accept it, but at least he has the numbers to help make him a little more comfortable.”

Indexed to published rates, toll fees might be noted as a lump sum or computed over the entire route and added to a per-mile rate like a fuel surcharge.

Just as fuel-savvy owner-operators can profit from fuel surcharges based on 6 miles per gallon, so toll-savvy owner-operators might be able to profit from toll surcharges, particularly in high-toll regions such as the Northeast. E-ZPass, the electronic tolling service in operation in most toll states between Illinois and Maine, offers truck discounts of 5 percent on the New York State Thruway, for instance. With BestPass, an E-ZPass-compatible discount tolling service for owner-operators and small fleets, even larger commercial volume discounts are possible.

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