Man holding a fuel nozzle

California’s 20-cent diesel tax hike goes into effect

Man holding a fuel nozzle

Truckers in California will now see increased prices at the pump after a 20-cent increase to the state’s diesel tax went into effect Wednesday, Nov. 1.

The excise tax on diesel in the state jumped from 16 cents per gallon to 36 cents per gallon Wednesday. The state has also increased the sales tax rate on diesel from 9 percent to 13 percent.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law in April that included the tax increases. The state expects to generate a combined $10.8 billion by increasing the diesel excise and state tax rates, along with $24.4 billion from a 12-cent gasoline tax increase that also went into effect Wednesday. The money generated by the taxes is to be used to fund transportation projects such as rebuilding roads and bridges.

Six other states this year have increased fuel taxes, including Indiana, Montana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

It Takes a Village

IT TAKES A VILLAGE by Pat Roche

BENJAMIN WRIGHT   (1770-1842)

Considered by many to be the Father of

Civil Engineering in America

The Erie Canal, The Blackstone Canal and the C&O Canal all fall under Mr. Wrights list of accomplishments. I start my article with him because of the following excerpt:

“It is calculated that the expense of transporting on a canal, exclusive of tolls, amounts to ONE CENT a ton per mile, or ONE DOLLAR a ton for one hundred miles, while the usual cost of conveyance by land is ONE DOLLAR and TWENTY FIVE CENTS per hundred weight, or TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS a ton for the same distance. A loaded boat can be towed by one or two horses at the rate of twenty five or thirty miles a day. Canals enable the Farmer, The Mechanic, and the Merchant to convey their commodities to market, and to receive a return at least TWENTY FOUR TIMES CHEAPER than by road.

Canals are advantageous to towns and villages, and to the whole country, by increasing population, augmenting individual aggregate wealth, and extending foreign commerce.

Those who have most carefully and deliberately examined the subject would almost consider it heresy to doubt it, so manifest are the advantages and so obvious the importance to a large fertile section of the country, whose prosperity probably experiences a severer check from the high charges for transportation on tonnage than from any other single cause.”

This was published in an article called “An account of the proposed canal from Worcester to Providence” (1882). Funny thing is it still holds true today, water is still the most cost effective means of transportation as well as the most environmentally sound. Yes the numbers are a bit different today, so are pay checks, price tags and most everything else in the world.

Oddly enough this was not the first time a civilization had this idea, this has been adopted by almost every advanced civilization on our planet from the earliest of records.

AUGUST FRUEHAUF (1867-1930)

Considered to be the Father of

The Semi-Trailer

August “Gus” Charles Fruehauf started a blacksmithing business in the 1890’s in the Detroit area with his family. A long time customer, and lumber tycoon, Fredrick Sibley came to him asking for a trailer he could tow his sail boat up to the lake with behind his Ford, Model T roadster. After building this Gus was often heard to say that this changed his business forever. In 1915 his company placed what was a $28 advertisement in a trade magazine which resulted in $22,000 in sales almost overnight.

There were many set-backs for Gus and family having a couple total loss fires before building their final blacksmith shop out of brick, by the direction of his wife. This shop grew to accommodate up to 60 horses at once. It also brought in more employees including Otto Neumann who became a lifelong business partner for Gus.

By the time of WW1 Fruehauf trailers were very involved in the US Military and did much to support the war efforts.  Gus, along with his business partners and customers helped begin the first Federal Highways program, together with Dwight Eisenhower (then Lt. Colonel) in 1919.

With the election of President Harding and the beginning of the great depression in 1920, Fruehauf Corporation was feeling the pinch; they were carrying much inventory purchased at higher prices for orders that were canceled due to the economic downturn. In come 2 men from England looking for property to build their factory for steel frame casement windows. The sale of 2 ¼ acres of property was the saving grace for the corporation and carried them thru the depression years.

Fruehauf Trailers also became a long time business partner with McLean Trucking co. thru the 1940’s and 50’s. The company was also the “go to” trailer builder for more than 50 years for most domestic trucking companies, vans, reefers, flatbeds, tanks all built by them.

MALCOLM McLEAN (1913-2001)

Considered to be the Father of

Containerized shipping.

Malcolm McLean finished High School in 1935 and like many families of the time there was no money for college, although for him there was enough for him to buy a used truck. Together with his sister and brother they began McLean Trucking, hauling empty tobacco barrels in NC. Malcolm was one of the drivers at this point. This company grew year over year thru hard work and a unique vision for the future.

Malcolm had studied the systems of the Southern Railway and the French Northern Railway in 1926 carrying boxes on vessels. He saw this as an opportunity and decided that the “box” should be the only part of the trailer to go on the vessel and not the chassis; this is how trailer ships were re-tagged as container ships.

In 1956 the company secured a loan to purchase 2 WWII T-2 tankers and retro fit them for freight. The laws of the day would not allow for trucking companies to own vessels for this which opened the door for him to open the Pan-Atlantic Steamship Corporation, later renamed Sea-land Service, Inc. After several months of overseeing the re-fit the SS Ideal X was ready to go.

On April 26, 1956 with 100 invited dignitaries, Longshoreman’s union members and others watching the SS Ideal X was loaded with 58 of his 35 foot “trailer vans” later to be dubbed containers for her inaugural voyage from Port Newark, NJ to the Port of Houston, TX. As you can imagine there were mixed feelings of this from many. At the time Longshoreman loaded everything by hand or machine into the vessels, this would often take much longer and often lose material in the process. Loading by container was 36 times cheaper for businesses. One union member there that day was asked what he thought of this, his reply was “I’d like to sink that son of a bitch.”

Sea-Land grew year over year and finally in 1999 Maersk bought the business and assimilated it into their global trade lanes, in 2006 Maresk dropped the additional name.

You may wonder why I began with such a history lesson. Many say “if you don’t study history you are doomed to repeat it”, well I am saying this time that we NEED TO REPEAT IT.

Transportation companies are faced with a growing driver shortage as well as growing highway issues; manufacturing is faced with growing demand for product at lower cost to market, Rail is faced with older infrastructure and an overwhelming demand for service causing congestion and longer than necessary delivery times. Too many times these services compete against each other and don’t really help the goal, which is to move freight for pay.

Until the 1960’s coastal container shipping was a regular 3rd mode of transportation here in the US. Since then it has decreased to almost zero. Barge freight has increased over 300% so we have not forgotten how to ship on our domestic waterways, we just need to bring back coastal container vessels to compliment rail, barge and truck to make the USA the strongest most efficient transportation country in the world.

There is much debate out there like “building ships here is cost prohibitive”, well that is not true. If we adopt new methods of building similar to the Liberty ships we built during war times then we can reduce the cost and make domestic ship building profitable. Think of all the skilled jobs that would put in our economy, the peripheral business it would grow and the tax dollars to local, state and federal budgets it would produce.

Next you often hear “it is too expensive to crew these with US personnel”, to this I say HOGWASH! We have many internationally acclaimed and prestigious Maritime academies in our country producing qualified candidates to crew these vessels. Unfortunately for them they usually end up living in other countries after graduation. We can employ them here in America with careers instead of transient jobs in other countries.

Then they say “our ports can’t handle this, they are not as good as others in the world”, I would say ^$@%*)!  to that. We have the largest group of port locations, the longest coastline and the longest river system in the world. There are port locations we just need to re-awaken, once that happens the world will be jealous not complaining about our ports. We have the resources, people and knowledge to do this, right now with coastal shipping as it is there is no need for them. Once we get it moving again we will put all of these back to work adding civil, casual and union workers all over the country.

We as a country need to wake up and smell the coffee; our roads are 4.7 TRILLION dollars in the hole! That amount only gets them repaired, not improved! We have a growing population, (estimates are for 2 to 3% annually), that will mean much more commerce on the roads in the very near future. If we do not re-adopt the American Marine Highway system, Change our thinking about transportation and what “needs” to be on the roads, we are in a lot of trouble.

Will it be easy, NO.   Will it be complicated, YES.

Can we do it…….ABSOLUTELY.

As Americans we have encountered difficulties since the beginning of our country. Each and Every time we adapt and overcome these challenges, this makes us the best and strongest country on Earth. How many of you know that close to 90% of us live within 100 miles of navigable waterways? That means much of what we move can go by water and meet trucks or rail for the first / last mile much closer to the origin or destination of the product. If we begin this transition now with some brave forward thinking companies both small and large it will catch on and grow. Doing this now can assist in the growth of our country’s commerce, it won’t fix all the road, rail or other issues, although it will put a pretty good dent in them possibly enough to open our eyes to the final piece we have yet to uncover that makes everything seamless.

This is why I added the history lesson above, you can see that throughout time water transportation has not only been considered the best costing mode of transportation, it has been proved to be such over and over again.

Join me, along with others I am working with to bring this back to the light. There is an old saying that is stronger than “TEAM” and this is what it is going to take to make this work so here goes:

“IT TAKES A VILLAGE”

Thank you.

 

Why Paying Truckers by the Mile is Unfair and Dangerous

The trucking industry is in crisis for one simple reason: It cannot find enough people to sit behind the wheel.

The American Trucking Assns., a trade group, estimates that trucks carry more than 67% of the country’s total freight by weight. Trucking is the nation’s most important mode of commercial shipping.

Currently, there are about 3.5 million people with commercial driver’s licenses, and 2.6 million drivers are on the road, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That may sound like a lot, but the ATA and others estimate that we’re short 35,000 to 40,000 drivers, and they believe that shortfall will expand to 240,000 drivers by 2022. Many carriers have trucks sitting idle because there’s no one available to drive them; many want to buy new trucks but won’t do so for the same reason. Carriers need more operators to fulfill shipper requests not only as the economy expands, but also as it stands now.

The shortage is most acute in long-haul operations. However, it is now affecting short haul and regional carriers as well as drayage trucks that do short hops between, say, a railhead and a nearby port. The driver shortage also hurts other transportation modes such as ocean shipping and rail, which rely on trucks to carry their freight “the last mile.”

The industry has tried to mitigate the shortage by offering drivers signing bonuses and shorter routes so they can be home more often, paying the cost for commercial driver’s license training, reaching out to ex-military, women and immigrant groups, and paying more for tenure. Carriers say these incentives help only incrementally and the shortage is not abating.

There are several reasons for the shortfall. First, drivers are older, on average, than the general working population, 49 versus 41.9 years, and many are retiring because they can no longer keep up with the physical demands of the job. Young people are not signing on to replace the folks who are leaving.

Second, federal regulations have cut back on the number of hours that a driver may spend behind the wheel, so additional drivers are needed to pick up the slack.

The most important reason, however, becomes obvious if you ask drivers directly. They’ll say the problem is how they get paid. Not how much, but how.

While the simple answer is to pay drivers by the hour instead of by [the mile], carriers are reluctant to do so because it would mean a dislocation of their business model.

Consumers may not realize that drivers are paid by the mile and not the hour. This means that they make no money for sitting in traffic or waiting at a warehouse.

It is not uncommon for a trucker to pull into a warehouse a few minutes after it closes and sleep in his truck until it opens the next day. This is time on the job but not money in his pocket. As one driver told me, “Because payment is by the mile, warehousers and others don’t respect drivers’ time. Any inefficiency in their operation — and even from my own carrier — is soaked up by the driver at no cost to anyone else.”

Paying by the mile is both unsafe and unfair. It encourages truckers to speed in order to make money. Getting paid by the mile, moreover, means truckers never know how much they will make for any given week (they can’t predict breakdowns, traffic, weather or man-made delays at warehouses). Drivers report that inconsistent pay is even more of a drawback than low pay.

While the simple answer is to pay drivers by the hour instead of by the distance traveled, carriers are reluctant to do so because it would mean a dislocation of their business model, which dates to the 1930s when the trucking industry looked very different than it does today. President Franklin D. Roosevelt exempted trucking from the Fair Labor Standards Act, which mandated a minimum wage.

I have found only one carrier that pays by the hour, Dupré Logistics in Lafayette, La. Started as a tank truck hauler in 1980, the company has 1,200 drivers and 600 trucks. About 15 years ago, the company realized that even though it was following the rules governing how many hours a trucker could be on the road, its drivers were fatigued, and therefore accident prone.

“We were compliant, and we were legal, but we weren’t safe,” Reggie Dupré, the company’s chief executive, told me. To keep drivers alert, the company moved to a schedule that would allow them shorter stints on the road. And to save drivers from losing income because of the new scheme, the company decided to pay by the hour instead of by the mile.

Dupré reports that the company’s crash rate plummeted. Dupré also says the company has attracted experienced, reliable drivers. People want to work there, and it has no shortage of applicants. The company’s driver turnover hovers around 17% in an industry where more than 90% is common.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2012 that fatal crashes of large trucks and buses cost the U.S economy $40 billion that year. Fatigue and speeding are major crash factors. It’s better for everyone if drivers don’t have to engage in dangerous behavior just to clock more miles, in the name of simply making a living.

Driver turnover rate soared in second quarter, ATA reports

The driver turnover rate at large truckload fleets jumped 16 percentage points to 90 percent in the second quarter of 2017, according to the American Trucking Associations’ quarterly report. The turnover rate at small fleets, those with less than $30 million in annual revenue, also leapt, climbing 19 points to 85 percent.

“After a period of relatively low turnover, it appears the driver market is tightening again, which coupled with increased demand for freight movement, could rapidly exacerbate the driver shortage,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello.

“We predicted that last year’s period of relatively low and stable turnover could be short-lived if the freight economy recovered from 2016’s freight recession,” he added. “It appears those predictions were correct and we may be seeing the beginnings of a significant tightening of the driver market and acceleration of the driver shortage.”

The turnover picture at less-than-truckload fleets was more muddled, with over-the-road LTL turnover dipping one point to 9 percent, but the rate for local LTL drivers was 14 percent, up two percentage points from the previous quarter and the highest rate in three years.

Cleaner Freight: Boost Sustainability at Every Level of the Supply Chain

Image credit: Ayesha Enterprises

From fields to factories, companies are making considerable strides incorporating sustainable strategies across individual stages in their supply chain.

But a key part of the supply chain that often gets overlooked is how goods are getting from point A to point B. It might seem obvious to focus on warehouses or office spaces, but because freight acts as the connective tissue between each of these stationary points in the supply chain, ‘greening’ your freight moves may just be the biggest sustainability secret hidden in plain sight.

Why? Because of this interconnected nature, freight provides companies with a major opportunity to increase the efficiency of your logistics, all while reducing emissions and improving air quality. Recent EDF research to assess the key sources of emissions in U.S. retail supply chains found that nearly nine percent of emissions are associated with freight transportation.

Despite the significant contribution of freight to environmental bottom line, even leading companies are either not including it in their sustainability programs, or are just scratching the surface of what is possible. A leading reason for inaction is an uncertainty about cost-effective emissions mitigation strategies. This is particularly acute for companies that do not operate private fleets.

The fact is that identifying opportunities to reduce freight emissions is straight forward, particularly freight shippers — who contract with carriers to transport their goods from A to B. EDF distilled down the most effective actions companies are taking to reduce freight emissions into the Five Principles for Greener Freight:

  1. Get the most out of every move. Combine and adapt packaging to maximize cube utilization. A fuller move is a greener move.
  2. Choose the most carbon-efficient transport mode. Favor ocean over air, rail over truck.
  3. Demand cleaner equipment and practices. Work with your carriers to get them to service your routes with cleaner, more fuel-efficient equipment.
  4. Redesign your logistics network. Continually optimize your network to maximize cost savings and minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
  5. Collaborate. Shippers can root out opportunities for savings through discussions with internal departments and with suppliers, customers, vendors — even competitors.

With these five principles as a guide, it’s clear that corporate responsibility success stories on freight abound for companies large and small:

At the same time, companies with their own fleets can be leaders, too:

  • PepsiCo has teamed up with ShellCarbon War Room and the North American Council for Freight Efficiency to put on Run on Less, a first-of-its-kind cross-country roadshow running throughout the month of September to showcase advancements in fuel efficiency. Along with monitoring the cost savings of different freight technologies, they are tracking and reporting in real time the amount of carbon emissions saved throughout the journey.
  • After pledging to double its fleet efficiency by the end of 2015, Walmart has built upon its previous sustainability goals to launch Project Gigaton, which will require commitments from its suppliers and at every level of its supply chains — including transportation.

So, how can your company follow their lead? There are plenty of resources available to help you succeed, including:

  • The U.S. EPA SmartWay program can help you measure and benchmark freight transportation efficiency. It offers a calculation tool for shippers and access to carrier-specific data for different transportation modes.
  • BSR’s Sustainable Fuel Buyers’ Principles provide a manageable framework to help buyers and shippers transition to sustainable, low-carbon fuel. Join companies such as AmazonHPIKEA, PepsiCo, UPS and Walmart to advance more economical and cleaner freight technologies.
  • EDF’s Green Freight Handbook — A comprehensive guideline to begin exploring cleaner freight strategies.
  • You can also tune into our webinar on September 13th to dive deeper into our Five Principles for Greener Freight.

Equipped with these tools and new insights into the possibilities and opportunities to optimize your freight system, you’ll soon be ready to take the wheel and rev up your environmental and financial goals.

Pace of Trucking Industry Change About To Hit Warp Speed

Written by Jack Uldrich, futurist and consultant. This is one in a series of periodic guest columns by industry thought leaders.

Jack Uldrich

Jack Uldrich

General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra likes to observe that the automotive industry will see more change in the next five years than it has in the last 50.

That’s so true, and it applies to all forms of automotive transport, including trucking. Just look at some of the recent changes in transportation.

  • When GPS technology – the basis for in-vehicle mapping, predictive cruise control and other technologies – went public in 2001, it was accurate to within 100 meters. Today, it is accurate to within a few meters.
  • When Tesla launched 14 years ago, the idea that a company supplying only electric vehicles – a niche market – could have a stock market valuation that rivals traditional car companies such as Ford or General Motors would have been dismissed as a pipedream. No one expected it would be developing a heavy-duty truck.
  • More recently, the notion of a company creating a platform that allowed strangers to safely and affordably get rides from strangers would have been laughable. Today, Uber Technologies operates in 683 cities around the world, has an estimated worth of $70 billion, has disrupted the taxi and automotive industries and is moving into freight hauling.

The world is changing, and the transformation will only accelerate as advances in augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, 5G wireless, material sciences, robotics, Big Data and battery technology continue to proliferate. The impact of these technological innovations upon the trucking industry will range from the mundane to the profound.

Volkswagen, for example, is already exploiting smart glasses and augmented reality to improve the productivity of its assembly line workers. In a move to increase safety, shipping giant UPS is adding virtual reality to the weeklong basic training course that all new package delivery van drivers attend before setting foot in a real truck. Ford is developing new super-strong, but lightweight materials that will make vehicles more fuel-efficient.

This is just the start. Continued progress in sensor technology will allow trucking companies to make greater advancements in the platooning of trucks. Peloton already claims to have achieved increases of 7 percent in fuel efficiency through the use of platooning technology that allows a tight formation of digitally tethered trucks to draft off a lead vehicle. Soon, other companies are likely to follow the lead of Cummins and leverage cloud computing and Big Data to more accurately discern when a truck’s tires, brakes, and engine are likely to experience a breakdown. Diagnostic technology will morph into preventative technology.

Within five years, software updates – transmitted wirelessly via 5G networks – will allow engines to be calibrated on the fly and render visits to the repair shop obsolete. In the same timeframe supercomputing – and, quite possibly, quantum computing – will grow exponentially more powerful. This technological progress, in turn, may facilitate the development and creation of revolutionary battery technologies. By 2021, it is plausible that battery technology will reach the point where it is priced competitively with diesel fuel. Factor in new wonder materials such as graphene and a trucker might be able to drive 600 to 800 miles on a single charge, as well as recharge their truck’s battery in seconds.

Today, the U.S. Army, Caterpillar, Rio Tinto and BHP are all experimenting with and using robotic, self-driving trucks in a limited capacity. Longer-term (5+ years), continued progress in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning will move autonomous trucks from today’s fringe to tomorrow’s mainstream.

The idea of autonomous trucks may still strike some in the trucking industry as either pie inthesky or, at best, a long way off. It is not. Major truck manufacturers and tech companies, including Daimler, Volvo, Waymo and Tesla all are developing self-driving trucks. Tesla is so confident it is asserting that its technology will soon reach the point where it can prevent 90 percent of all accidents involving its vehicles. Knowing no insurance company is likely to offer a 90 percent reduction in its premiums, Tesla plans to integrate insurance into a flat, low annual “maintenance” fee.

Autonomous trucks offer tantalizing cost savings. They will save lives by having fewer crashes and they won’t require sleep, extended breaks, get sick or drive at anything but the optimal level.

Opponents of self-driving trucks may cite the lack of proper infrastructure or regulatory or legislative hurdles as barriers to overcome. To be sure, these are legitimate points, but some states, including Michigan, California, Nevada and Ohio are already building out vehicle-to-infrastructure networks, and in late July the first bill regulating autonomous vehicles passed a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. With continuous improvements in autonomous trucking technology and the physical infrastructure being built out, the eventual passing of some form of legislation by the full Congress will inevitably take place.

If the American Trucking Association’s claims about the industry facing a shortage of 174,000 truckers by 2024 are correct – and assuming the industry can’t continue to raise wages in an effort to attract new drivers in the industry – will trucking companies have any alternative but to transition to autonomous vehicles?

The coming changes to the trucking industry won’t merely be confined to the design or operation of the truck. The cargo on those trucks will also change. To understand the transformation, consider ice. Before the invention of refrigeration, the shipping of ice was an important and profitable business. After refrigerators found their way into hotels, restaurants, and homes, the demand for ice evaporated.

Fortunately for the shipping and trucking industries, the impact was barely noticed because refrigeration also opened up vast new markets as consumers began clamoring for vegetables, fruits, and beverages that could only be transported with the assistance of refrigeration.

Something comparable is about to happen as a result of two new and unrelated technological developments. The first involves additive manufacturing – also known as 3D printing. In early 2017, Adidas announced that it had successfully printed 5,000 pairs of shoes. It is a small number, but 3D printers are getting faster (up to 100 times faster), and they are now capable of printing 160 different materials.

What this implies is that soon everything from shoes and tools to wind turbines, jet engines and even houses may be printed closer to their end market. As this trend grows, the number of items, parts and products that need to be transported will decrease. One study has even estimated that 3D printing could eliminate 25 percent of truck shipments.

Much the same is true due to the advances in urban agriculture and vertical farming. A handful of vertical farms are already proclaiming that they can produce crops 30 to 100 times more efficiently than traditional farmers. If so, the days of shipping tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, avocados and other produce thousands of miles are numbered. Longer term, extraordinary advances in artificial cheese, milk and meat could do the same to animal-based products.

It may at first appear that these trends portend a bleak future for the trucking industry, but that isn’t necessarily the case. The hardest thing to imagine about the future are those things that don’t yet exist. If millions of people are purchasing 3D-manufactured items and locally grown crops, it is possible that they will have additional disposable income with which to purchase other items that can’t be manufactured or grown locally.

While it is possible these new products might be shipped via Elon Musk’s Hyperloop or even distributed by Amazon drones through Jeff Bezos’ patent-pending airborne fulfillment center, it is more plausible that they will be shipped via trucks. Furthermore, existing products (even 3D-printed items and locally grown produce) will still require transportation for the last few miles. To paraphrase King Charles VII of France, “Trucking is dead. Long live trucking.” 

Editor’s note: Jack Uldrich is a futurist and author, and keynote speaker. His latest book is Foresight 2020: A Futurist Explores the Trends Transforming Tomorrow.

Things Are in Motion – Watch an Update

Green Shipping Line Signs Teaming Agreement With Moran Iron Works

Green Shipping Line (GSL) and Moran Iron Works (MIW) have signed a teaming agreement to pursue marine construction projects in the United States.

GSL is headquartered in New York, NY and is in the process of facilitating the construction of a fleet of modern, fuel efficient Jones Act feeder vessels that offer shippers reliable, economic and frequent transport for containers and trailered cargos between US ports. GSL’s robust system will provide shippers a waterborne option that adds resiliency and redundancy to their supply chain management processes.

“We are thrilled to be working with Tom Moran and his team of visionary thinkers,” comments Percy R. Pyne IV, Founding Partner of Green Shipping Line. “Together, we will build a fleet of state of the art, energy efficient, Jones Act feeder/short sea vessels for US coastal trade.”

Moran Iron Works is a national leader in custom modular steel fabrication, specializing in work for marine, power, mining, and other industries. Their extensive knowledge and production capabilities provides GSL with an ideal partner to assemble its fleet of modern Jones Act Feeder vessels.

“We are proud to be a part of the Green Shipping Line team of forward thinking and progressive professionals. We are working as partners to bring forward their plans to revolutionize short sea shipping in the United States and reduce the impact of land based transportation methods on our environment,” states Tom Moran, CEO and Founder of MIW.

What Does Decreasing Boxcar Fleet Mean for U.S. Capacity?

Box cars are an aging technology that is still relied upon by many shippers. Steve Raetz, from the Transportfolio blog, described in depth the situation in his recent post. Here’s a portion of the article:

The story of the disappearing boxcars seems to be one that is best understood through the data and in the eyes of individual shippers and the industries that leverage these assets.
The current boxcar fleet consists of 115,000 cars; 65,276 boxcars will retire over the next 15 years. But new technologies, such as newer boxcars with higher freight capacities, are slowly replacing the older versions. At the same time, this isn’t an absolute solution; older infrastructure can’t handle the larger freight cars, especially in the northeast.

  • Railroads own more than 75% of all boxcars; the average age of these boxcars is close to 30 years. Privately-owned boxcars account for 22% of the market, and boxes have an average age of 19 years. It appears that railroad companies do not foresee a need to increase their ownership or increase their orders for new boxcars in the near future. In fact, they provide incentives and reduced rates to those who use private freight cars instead of using the railroad’s fleet.
  • Fewer industries today—especially paper, beer, plywood, and metals—still rely on boxcar use. Products that have traditionally shipped by boxcars are now being moved on newer types of freight cars that are more efficient. Lumber is now shipped on center beam flat cars, which can haul more product per car than boxcar, and are easier to load and unload. Auto manufacturers have moved manufacturing facilities closer to suppliers, making trucks a more economical transportation choice.
  • Boxcar fleets are shipping a decreasing number of shipments. In the last 10 years, rail ton-mile shipments have decreased 42% for lumber/wood, 42% for motor vehicles and parts, and 13.2% in pulp and paper. In addition, railroads find boxcars less attractive than unit trains. Boxcars cost $135,000 each, and they have higher dwell times and lower turns than much more profitable unit trains—large trains with similar equipment that go point to point without stopping.

See more here