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Permit Conditions Revised for Walmart's Sixty Footer

TORONTO — In a statement released late today, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) said that the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has revised the permit conditions for Walmart Canada's 60'6' drop-deck semi-trailer.

Walmart introduced the semi-trailer earlier this month, receiving extensive press coverage that was followed quickly by a dissection of the new trailer, as well as the permit conditions to run the new configuration, by the OTA during their Annual General Meeting.

You can click here to read OTA's specific issues with the permit conditions, but as the OTA phrased it today, the "initial permit conditions fell well short of what was necessary to ensure public safety and fair treatment of the trucking industry."

Today's revised permit conditions have addressed many of the OTA's concerns, the association said.

The new permit conditions will apply to five qualified carriers, each with four permits. The trial will be limited to carriers shipping retail goods.

“While for the most part the trucking industry would prefer to not have to deal with the whole question of extended length trailers, the association’s long-standing position is that it will not stand in the way of changes to Ontario’s truck weights and dimensions standards that would enhance the productivity of the industry, its customers or the provincial economy at large," said OTA president David Bradley, "so long as the proposed vehicles maintain or enhance highway/road safety; meet or exceed provincial dynamic performance standards; produce environmental benefits such as reduced GHG emissions; and allow for a sufficient return on investment.”

The OTA pointed to specific concerns of theirs that were addressed:

Shipper or Carrier? The clauses in the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the MTO and Walmart that "clearly stated the permits would be held by the shipper." The new permit conditions state that the permits will be held by carriers. That, Bradley said, was non-negotiable for the association.

Tougher Qualifcation Standards: Under the new conditions, those carriers that receive a permit will have to meet a higher level of qualification, similar to the Ontario LCV program. Initially, carriers applying for a permit had to meet a satisfactory safety rating, OTA said. The new conditions require the carrier to maintain a minimum of $5 million liability insurance and have at least five years of prior trucking experience.

Driver Qualification: the “swing-out” characteristics of the proposed trailer and the fact a shorter tractor would be needed to fit within the current envelope, OTA wanted to see more experienced drivers behind the wheel. Now, carriers will be required to provide appropriate orientation to drivers and the driver must have a minimum of five years provable tractor-trailer driving experience.

Prescribed Specific Origins and Destinations: Another on the OTA list. Carriers, during the trial period, must inform MTO in advance of the origin-destination of locations at which they intend to operate the extended trailers, and cannot load and operate the trailers spontaneously, without notifying MTO.

Gradual Phase-In: OTA said that from a safety perspective and in consideration to an industry that is already heavily invested in 53 foot trailers, a mutli-year, gradual phase-in of the number of operators and permits available was needed. MTO said that it will make that call after the trial results have been collected and digested. The revised permit conditions state, “based on the results of the (trial) evaluation, MTO will determine whether to and how to proceed with a measured roll-out of extended semi-trailer operations.”

“It is clear that what we are now talking about is a very small, tightly controlled trial of a specific trailer design," Bradley said in a statement, "not a wide open roll-out of a new, longer trailer standard.”

 
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