ETC International Freight System
Air, Ocean, Transportation, Trucking, USA, Shipping
Joc reporting on hours-Of-Service
Hours-of-Service Rule Delay Rejected, Raising Capacity Fears
Mark Szakonyi, Associate Editor | Feb 26, 2013 2:24PM EST
Shippers hoping for an extra three months of breathing room before new hours-of-service rules take effect — potentially reducing truck capacity — will be dismayed after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rejected the American Trucking Associations’ delay request.
FMCSA Chief Counsel T.F. Scott Darling denied ATA’s request to delay HOS implementation until three months after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rules on challenges to the regulation. The agency’s decision to deny the dealy also suggests it is confident that the court will block the two challenges to the HOS rule after hearing oral arguments March 15.
“Basically, your request to delay the compliance date of the rule is really a request for a stay pending a decision by the Court, plus an additional three months of non-compliance,” Darling wrote in a strongly-worded Feb. 22 letter to ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.
The ATA responded that the rejection will mean “carriers, shippers and FMCSA-funded State enforcement agencies will have to spend time and money on training and adapting systems to a rule whose final form will not be certain until the court issues its decision.” The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the National Industrial Transportation League and the National Association of Manufacturers also back the delay.
“Especially in the current economic climate, carriers and shippers can ill afford to squander resources on a moving target like this,” ATA said in a statement. “We’re disappointed that FMCSA is willing to risk squandering public training and enforcement funds this way.”
If the Court of Appeals sides with FMCSA, the final hours-of-service regulation will take effect July 1. Under the new rules, drivers will have to be off duty for two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods before a restart of the 34-hour provision. Drivers will also only be allowed to use the restart once in a seven-day period, which is expected to drop the most time they can spend behind the wheel from 82 hours to 70 hours a week.
Shippers’ capacity concerns are exacerbated by other federal regulations that could reduce the availability of truck services, including the Compliance Safety and Accountability program, and the trucking industry’s reluctance to expand its fleets. The quarterly Journal of Commerce Truckload Capacity Index hit a new low in the fourth quarter of 2012, falling 1.3 percentage points to a preliminary reading of 82.4.
Bill Carey of AINonline reporting on the U.S Transportation Sequestration (see below)
U.S. Transportation, Security Officials Warn of ‘Sequestration’ Impact
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration have released details of the cuts they will make if mandated budget reductions from “sequestration” take effect March 1. The likelihood of Congress acting to prevent sequestration appeared to be dimming last week.
In a surprise appearance at the White House on February 22, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said his department would cut $1 billion from its budget, including more than $600 million from the FAA, in the seven months remaining in the federal fiscal year. The FAA would furlough, or impose temporary unpaid leave, on most of its 47,000 employees for one or two days per two-week pay period. The agency would close 100ATC towers at airports with fewer than 10,000 commercial operations per year and eliminate midnight shifts at 60 towers nationwide. With fewer controllers on duty, flights to major cities such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco could be delayed up to 90 minutes. “Look, this is a big deal,” LaHood told reporters. “It’s a big deal because a lot of people–common, ordinary citizens–fly. A lot of people use airports, and this is going to have a real impact.”
Separately, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary Janet Napolitano, in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee on February 14, described the effect of sequestration on DHS constituent agencies including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Sequestration would require the TSA to furlough its 50,000 security officers for up to seven days, she said. Fewer TSA screeners “would substantially increase airline passenger wait times by as much as an hour at the nation’s largest and busiest airports.” In the last fiscal year, CBPprocessed 98 million international air travelers; cutting the agency’s funding and staffing “will increase wait times at airports,” Napolitano said in written testimony.
Republican lawmakers criticized the Obama administration over the dire warnings by its cabinet secretaries. “We are disappointed by the Administration creating alarm about sequestration’s impact on aviation,” read a joint statement from House Transportation Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), Aviation Subcommittee chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and Senate Transportation Committee ranking member John Thune (R-S.D.). “Before jumping to the conclusion that furloughs must be implemented, the Administration and [the FAA] need to sharpen their pencils and consider all the options. Prematurely outlining the potential impacts before identifying other savings is not helpful.”
On February 21, the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) added its voice to the chorus of aviation industry groups and government officials warning about the negative consequences of sequestration. ALPA president Lee Moak said the FAA’s action to furlough controllers will reduce the overall availability of flights, worsen delays and drive up airline ticket prices. “I urge Congress to move swiftly to avoid the damage of sequestration,” Moak said. ALPA first vice president Sean Cassidy said working groups involved in the NextGen ATC modernization effort “are going to be sidelined” by sequestration. “It will set NextGen back,” he warned.