Friday, June 29, 2012

The Highway Bill - Is it Re-regulation in Disguise?

For many who have read my postings you know I personally believe there is a quiet re-regulation of the transportation (mostly full truckload) industry going on in the United States.  Interestingly enough, this is mostly being led by the trucking companies themselves both indirectly and directly.  As regulations have increased the profitability of the trucking companies has increased as well.  It is as if they all just decided competing in an unregulated and highly efficient market was just too much to take.  It is easier to publish a unified tariff and move on.

A stark example of this is in the new highway bill.  In an article written in Logistics Week Bill Graves, the ATA President hails this bill for doing the following:

  • Requiring electronic on board recorders for hours of service compliance
  • Establishing a central clearing house for Drug and Alcohol testing
  • Establishment of standards for systems to provide employers notification of moving violations
  • Mandatory testing of new carriers coming into the business around safety (Read: Increase the barrier to entry)
There was a day when any transportation executive would be appalled at the above mainly because it increases regulation, decreases competition and creates barriers to entry to the industry.  This will all result in bad news for shippers as the carriers will use these "new regulations" as an excuse to raise rates.  The savvy shippers will remember who actually put these regulations in place in the first place: The trucking industry. 

One thing the new Highway bill does not do:  Fund infrastructure repairs so our roads and highways become less congested and more conducive to transportation. 

Next up I will deal with how this is being paid for and here is a little hint:  If you think you are getting a defined benefit pension plan, you just contributed!

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