Log Book

| April 30, 2009

Pointing to the federal government’s bailout of some automakers and suppliers, Ustian said, “We’d like them to stand on their own two feet, but we need them to be successful.” From the suppliers’ perspective, “if one of those goes belly up, we’re going to have trouble and it will affect the trucking industry.” Ustian showed a chart indicating auto sales are down about 25 percent and truck sales are down 50 percent since 2006. “Trucks are way more volatile,” he said.

Meeting new emissions regulations will impact truck sales, Ustian said. While noting that everyone in the room favored environmental initiatives, “we should be part of that clean air decision,” he said. He cited the need for getting older trucks off the road by encouraging truckers to buy new, but acknowledged that emissions technology has increased the cost of trucks $25,000 since 2004. And if the Obama administration allows each state to make its own emissions rules, as the President has suggested, that could pose serious problems long-term for truck makers, he said.

Fixing economic problems will require more voices to be heard, Ustian said. Some of the efforts being discussed by Congress and the administration – card check and higher taxes on businesses, for example – are under consideration because the constituencies that embrace them have been the loudest. To change that course, the trucking industry must educate government leaders, he said. There are signs of improvement, he said, “and when the government understands the impact of some of what they are doing, it will move even faster.”
- Linda Longton

Schneider National said it has endorsed FuelSurchargeIndex.org, a fuel surcharge mechanism from ProMiles Software Development Corp., as an alternative to other sources of fuel prices for surcharges, such as the federal Energy Information Administration’s weekly retail average.

“The best fuel surcharge program offers neutrality for both the shipper and carrier, low cost of administration, verifiable and auditable data, and a direct link to the day and route of a load,” says Mark Rourke, president of transportation services at Green Bay, Wis.-based Schneider National.

Instead of EIA’s weekly average, which is based on pricing at 350 truck stops, FuelSurchargeIndex.org provides fuel prices at more than 5,500 truck stops that are updated every 24 hours and specific to the route that a load actually is traveling, ProMiles says.

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