Chris Spear, CEO of the American Trucking Association, testified before Congress this week with a long list of things the trucking industry needs to keep commerce moving in the United States.
Here are excerpts from his testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Tuesday:
TRUCKING AND ECONOMY
Trucking is the dynamic linchpin of the U.S. supply chain that turns the wheels of our economy. This year, our industry will transport over 70% of the country’s freight tonnage. Over the next decade, trucks will be responsible for transporting 2.4 billion tonnes more freight than today… Trucks will continue to be the dominant mode of freight transportation for the foreseeable future.
The infrastructure on which we operate and our national economy are rapidly approaching a point of crisis… Head winds – such as deteriorating roads and bridges, severe traffic jams, bottlenecks and unprecedented backlogs in our countries. seaports – delay the movement of people and goods, threatening our global competitiveness and the continuity of the international supply chain. Obstacles – like the dire shortage of drivers and mechanics, the recruiting lines that have been decimated by the pandemic, and obstacles preventing the industry from reaching a new generation of drivers – increase freight costs and put a strain on the industry. endanger the supply of consumer goods. And challenges – such as outdated regulatory barriers that could delay a technological transformation in the movement of freight – threaten to hinder an industry-wide transition to greater sustainability, allowing trucks to move in a more sustainable way. safer and more efficient, and with less impact on the environment than us. never dared to imagine.
The trucking industry applauds the efforts of Congress and the Biden administration to pursue a real and meaningful investment in our nation’s infrastructure. For decades, federal policymakers have postponed and delayed infrastructure investments that American families and businesses desperately need to boost security, reduce congestion, and improve commerce.
Spear outlined the top priorities for the trucking industry.
Freight intermodal connectors – those routes that connect ports, rail yards, airports, and other intermodal facilities to the national highway network – are essential to commerce and a seamless supply chain. While intermodal connectors are an essential part of the freight distribution system, many are overlooked and not given the attention they deserve despite their importance to the country’s economy. Only nine percent of the connectors are in good or very good condition, 19 percent are in poor condition, and 37 percent are in poor condition.
One of the possible reasons connectors are overlooked is that the vast majority of these roads – 70 percent – are under the jurisdiction of a local or county government. Yet these routes meet critical regional, national and international needs well beyond the geographic boundaries of the jurisdictions responsible for them, and these broader benefits may not be factored into the spending decisions of local jurisdictions. While intermodal connectors are eligible for federal funding, it is clear that this is simply not enough. We urge Congress to set aside adequate funding for freight intermodal connectors to ensure these critical arteries receive the attention and resources they deserve.
CONGESTION OF THE PORT AND BOTTLES
Ports have struggled to cope with an influx of container ships, and increasing maritime traffic has created significant challenges for every link in the global supply chain. Intermodal road carriers play a vital role in the global supply chain, moving freight to and from ports and stations, and providing the last mile of delivery to get products directly to customers. Bottlenecks and congestion in ports are having a ripple effect on motor carriers that move intermodal freight, and existing shortages of containers, chassis, terminal appointments, tugs and truck drivers. truck only exacerbate these supply chain disruptions. These supply chain issues have also created problems for US exporters, especially in the agricultural sector, by making it more difficult for producers to get their products to overseas markets.
The increase in freight volumes in ports and the resulting bottlenecks have demonstrated the importance of a reliable and well-maintained infrastructure to handle the intermodal aspect of international trade, which will continue to grow in the years to come. come. There is no doubt that additional resources are needed to facilitate truckers’ quick access to ports, as well as their ability to procure equipment to load and unload containers in a timely manner.
FREIGHT FINANCING PROGRAMS
The Program of Road Transport and Freight Projects of National Importance and the National Road Freight Transport Program have provided dedicated funds for projects that improve traffic flow and enhance the safety of transport facilities with freight volumes. important. These programs should be continued with increased funding. In addition, ATA supports maintaining the 10% cap on non-road projects under these programs. Trucks carry 70 percent of freight tonnage and are essential to the efficient movement of intermodal freight. Additionally, trucking is the only mode of freight that contributes directly to the Highway Trust Fund and should not be forced to further subsidize modes that do not.
There is a significant shortage of available and safe parking spaces for truck drivers in most parts of the country … Truck parking is most problematic along major freight corridors, near major ports, around intermodal facilities and in metropolitan areas. With the expected growth in demand for trucking services, this problem – along with the obvious safety implications for truckers and the automotive public – is likely to worsen. FMCSA regulations require drivers to take breaks after driving for a specified number of hours, and if a driver is unable to find safe and legal parking, he or she is in a losing conundrum, forced to drive illegally or to stop driving. to park. in a dangerous or unauthorized place. Federal hours of service rules were designed to promote the highest levels of road safety, but the lack of safe truck parking spaces makes it difficult, if not impossible, for drivers to obey the law…. We urge Congress to enact the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, legislation that would establish a competitive discretionary grant program and commit $ 755 million from the Highway Trust Fund over five years to truck parking projects across the country. With a focus on increasing capacity, the bill would provide funding for the construction of new spaces in public and private facilities, while helping public entities convert existing facilities – such as gas stations. weighing and closed rest areas – in truck parking spots.
HOW TO PAY FOR INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS
There is no tax that protects taxpayer dollars as vigorously as fuel costs. Contrary to the ideological demagoguery that surrounds this policy, the “fuel tax” is a model example of federal revenue efficiency. This is because it is collected at the wholesale level long before gasoline reaches the retail pump. There are approximately 1,300 wholesale racks across the country operated collectively by less than 270 entities, which means that less than 300 entities actually pay this tax. The result is a proven system that minimizes overhead and maximizes efficiency – i.e. value – for road users. Ninety-nine cents of every dollar raised goes directly to the Highway Trust Fund. Compare that to alternatives like toll or vehicle-mile tax systems, where up to 20 cents of every dollar is lost in administration and collection costs.
While the ATA considers an increase in the fuel tax to be the best and most immediate way to improve our country’s roads and bridges, we also recognize that improvements in energy efficiency and development new technologies may eventually make the fuel tax a diminishing source. revenue for long-term surface transportation improvements. We therefore encourage Congress, in consultation with the executive branch, state and local partners, and the private sector, to continue working to identify future sources of revenue. ATA urges Congress to include in the impending surface transportation reauthorization bill a plan to strengthen current mechanisms for financing highways in the short term, and ultimately replace them with new, more sustainable sources of revenue over the long term . We recommend a ten-year strategy that includes the creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission to explore the effectiveness of existing pilot programs, and provide recommendations to Congress to consider during the final transition of the fuel tax.