Industry News

| December 11, 2008

· Dart Transit announced in December its second round of owner-operator pay increases in a year, to take effect in the first quarter of 2005. “Adding the two increases together, Dart has raised contractor pay about $7,500 a year,” says David Oren, Dart executive vice president.

· Paschall Truck Lines (PTL) offers a $7,000 sign-on bonus, U.S. Xpress a $5,000 sign-on bonus.

Beginning in August, Barr-Nunn, based in Granger, Iowa, guaranteed 99-cent diesel to its owner-operators who fueled within its fleet network, which includes Flying J, Pilot and TA. More than 99 percent of the fleet’s contractors took advantage of the offer, which puts Barr-Nunn in a better position to negotiate fleet discounts. Even more importantly for the carrier, 50 new owner-operators have signed on, and driver turnover has dropped from 90 percent to 60 percent.

“At first it cost us a pretty penny, but now our fuel surcharges have caught up with it,” Albrecht says. “It’s really been innovative. We’ve gone from losing 14 to 15 owner-operators per month to losing four to six per month.”

Barr-Nunn will continue the program through June 30 at least, Albrecht says, though the guaranteed price has inched up a nickel to $1.04. The national average diesel price is nearly twice that.

Some argue that a price war of compensation packages will do little to bring new drivers into a tough industry – but while it lasts, it sure will help owner-operators already in it.
-LINDA LONGTON AND ANDY DUNCAN


TRUCK STOPS LOSE WIRELESS INTERNET IN PROVIDER DISPUTE
The one-year-old partnership between Truckstop.net and Sprint Communications has soured, and hundreds of truck stops have lost wireless Internet services as a result.

Truckstop.net filed suit against Sprint Nov. 15 in U.S. District Court in Boise, Idaho, charging breach of contract and negligence. Sprint, which says Truckstop.net is not paying its bills, responded Nov. 23 by cutting off Internet access to most Truckstop.net locations.

Of the 558 Truckstop.net locations, only about 25 percent still have Internet access, says Scott Moscrip, chief executive officer of Truckstop.net, based in New Plymouth, Idaho.

“All Love’s and Rip Griffin truck stop access sites are still functioning,” Moscrip says. “Pilots and Petros … do not have service now, but that might change. Love’s brought in their own Internet access.”

Moscrip says Truckstop.net is looking for a company to replace Sprint. In the meantime, customers who have purchased an account or pre-paid pass for the wireless Internet service can find refund procedures on the Truckstop.net website.

Flying J hopes to recruit Truckstop.net customers to its wireless Internet service, available in 285 locations. “They create a new account with us by signing up for one of our plans, and we give them credit with whatever remains of their Truckstop.net account,” says Brian McCaul, a Flying J vice president.

Debra Peterson, a communication manager for Sprint, says the company cut off service for a simple reason: “They owe us money.” Sprint felt it “had met its requirements to Truckstop.net.”

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