New Jersey’s Ambitious Plan to Clean Up the Port Authority’s Mess

With Bridgegate and the now-fatal underfunding of New Jersey Transit dominating the headlines, it’s easy to forget about other botched infrastructure projects in the Garden State. Take the Port Authority’s incredibly mismanaged and ill-designed trucks replacement program, for example: Launched in 2009, it offered drivers grants to help pay for new, cleaner vehicles — up to $25,000 each. Most drivers make less than $30,000 a year; for many, especially those driving rigs with the older, dirtier-burning engines that the program meant to phase out, it was too good a deal to pass up. But the grant program was at best cosmetic. A new truck costs as much as $100,000; many drivers went into serious debt to cover the upfront capital, some ending up as much as $75,000 in the hole. To minimize the debt burden, the only alternative for many was to purchase trucks that were already years old, with unfamiliar emissions systems needing specialists to fix. Sometimes these replacements died on the side of the Jersey Turnpike.

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Can your trucking firm repel cyberattacks?

Since it is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, it’s as good a time as any to determine whether the security protocols protecting the digital ramparts of your trucking operation are adequate.

And if any of the recent surveys I’ve been reviewing provide a general guide, they probably aren’t.

Take the results from Nationwide’s second annual Small Business Indicator, a national survey of 502 U.S. small-business owners with fewer than 300 employees, for example.

That poll found most small-business owners (78%) still don’t have a cyberattack response plan, even though more than half (54%) were victim to at least one type of cyberattack – and don’t forget, about 80% of the trucking industry is made up of operations that can be considered “small businesses.”

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Source: FleetOwner

ATA panel: the future of trucking is ‘liquidity and automation’

On the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 4, a panel of experts discussed autonomous and platooning trucks during the American Trucking Associations annual Management Conference and Exhibition (MC&E) in Las Vegas.

In contrast to other presenters in suits and ties, Anthony Levandowski had bright orange sneakers, jeans and a quarter-zip pullover. But make no mistake about it, he is serious about the future of trucking.

“I love robots,” said the former Google executive and co-founder of Otto, a startup that began building self-driving trucks from his garage in Palo Alto, Calif., in early 2016. Otto was recently acquired by Uber and he now lead’s Uber’s self-driving efforts for cars and trucks.

The future of transportation and trucking is liquidity and automation, he said. By liquidity he means the ability to match carriers and shippers efficiently to reduce empty loads and emissions. By automation, he means having self-driving trucks everywhere, all the time.

Just as passenger ride service Uber now offers last-mile delivery of take-out food and groceries, Uber Freight will eventually be delivering truckload-size quantities without driver assistance, he said.

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Self-driving start-up Otto to test with truckers by year’s end

Self-driving trucking start-up Otto is poised to put its software in the hands of long-haul truckers by the end of this year for testing, its co-founders said on Thursday.

Otto, co-founded by Google car and map project veterans Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron, will also begin testing five retrofitted Volvo trucks at Northern California’s autonomous vehicle testing grounds, GoMentum Station, in coming weeks.

By the end of the year, small owner-operators and larger commercial partners will begin using Otto’s self-driving kit, Levandowski told Reuters at the facility in Concord, north of San Francisco, adding the company has a target of “thousands” of testers by 2017.

Otto has not yet announced when the technology will be ready for sale.

Launched in May, Otto focuses on maximizing the efficiency and safety of long-haul trucks, which spend much of their time on the side of the road as drivers rest.

The Otto trucks are equipped with a series of sensors and mapping technology to allow them to gauge their position on highways and make real-time driving decisions.

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Source: Yahoo

Automation halves truck turn times at Long Beach port terminal

In possibly the strongest pitch yet for the benefits that marine terminal automation can deliver to truckers, the president of Long Beach Container Terminal said visit times at the newly automated facility are less than half the average truck visit time for the 13-terminal Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex as a whole.

Anthony Otto told a meeting of the California Trucking Association in Long Beach last week that the portion of the terminal that has been automated is producing average turn times, from arrival at the pedestal outside the entry gate to the exit gate, of 38 minutes to 40 minutes. By comparison, the truck mobility turn times published each month by the Harbor Trucking Association listed the average turn time in April as 85 minutes.

LBCT, which operates the Middle Harbor terminal in Long Beach, has been rolling out the first phase of its $1.3 billion automation project for the past two months. As of last week, automation of vessel, yard, gate and on-dock rail operations in the first portion of the 342-acre terminal to be upgraded has been completed. The entire automation project is scheduled for completion in 2019.

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This Port of Los Angeles terminal will be first in the world to use all renewable energy

A 40-acre cargo terminal at the Port of Los Angeles will begin transitioning to solar power and other low- or zero-emission energy sources starting this summer, harbor officials said Wednesday.

Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals, which moves both traditional containers and “break bulk” cargo such as steel and other unusually shaped items, will begin the final design and construction of a solar power microgrid in June.

Port officials said the “green omni terminal,” which will serve as a test case for zero-emissions and electric technologies at the port, is seen as an ideal site because it moves a variety of cargo types, including about 2 million tons of steel a year.

The $26.6 million project is expected to take two years. When completed, the terminal will be the first in the world to generate all of its own energy needs from renewable sources, and it will be able operate completely off the grid if necessary, port officials said.

Pasha came up with $11.4 million for the project to match a $14.5 million grant awarded earlier this year by the California Air Resource Board. The state grant will pay for nine electric vehicles and the solar grid, which includes a rooftop array, battery storage, charging equipment and an energy management system.

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Source: Press Telegram

Port of Oakland phone app alerts truckers to waits at the gate

An old-line business, the Port of Oakland, is using one of the world’s newest technologies, an app designed to help truckers cope with busy cargo gates at the shipping hub, the port said Wednesday.

 “This could definitely be helpful and would be worth it,” said Bruce Gill, owner of Union City-based Bay City Express, a trucking firm.
 The app is available on the Google Play store for Android phones and the Apple store for the iPhone, the port said.
 “There’s no more guesswork for truckers picking up or delivering cargo in Oakland,” said John Driscoll, the port’s maritime director. “Now they can plan their days with real-time information.”
The software application arrives at a time when the Port of Oakland has undertaken a far-reaching transformation to operate more efficiently. The port has been opening gates at night and on weekends to help unclog backlogs of cargo being delivered or picked up by truckers.
The app tells truck drivers how long it takes to enter terminal gates and calculates how long drivers must wait to complete transactions. The free app for truckers is called DrayQ and can be found on the app stores under the DrayQ name.
Source: East Bay Times

The new Panama Canal is opening soon and will cause an ‘evolution’ in a vital US industry

In June a $5.25 billion effort to expand the canal will reach its long-delayed conclusion, allowing ships more than 2 1/2 times the size of the current limit to pass through the waterway.

The increased capacity could have profound effects on the US transportation industry, as the cost of shipping from Asia to ports in the eastern US would drop significantly. Simply put, bigger ships are more economically efficient and have lower per-unit costs.

Larger ships and lower costs meant importers traditionally chose to bring in goods from Asia at West Coast ports and then to the eastern US by rail.

But if the canal’s increased capacity lowers shipping costs to the East Coast by enough, it could mean a sizable loss of freight volume over time for western American railroads, Nerijus Poskus, an expert on international shipping at the booking company Flexport, told Business Insider.

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Source: Business Insider

California Awards $23.6 Million for Electric Drayage Trucks

California is awarding $23.6 million to the South Coast Air Quality Management District for a statewide zero-emission, Class 8 drayage truck development and demonstration project.

The South Coast air district is partnering with air districts in the Bay Area, Sacramento, San Diego and San Joaquin Valley for a statewide demonstration of 43 battery electric and plug-in hybrid drayage trucks serving major California ports. The trucks will be used in all five air districts to target key areas of the state with drayage truck activity.

Manufacturers including Kenworth, Peterbilt, Volvo and BYD are involved in the project and will use their engineering resources, manufacturing capabilities and distribution networks to support drayage truck development.

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Some LTL carriers buffeted by earnings headwinds in first quarter

The first quarter is typically the slowest period of freight demand for LTL carriers. With a few notable exceptions, that was reflected in first quarter earnings reports of the major publicly held LTL carriers.

The notable exception was YRC Freight, which operates the third-largest LTL concern in its long-haul unit and the eighth-largest regional operation with its New Penn, Holland and Reddaway units.

YRC was able to nearly quadruple its year-over-year operating income to $13.4 million compared with $3.7 million for first quarter 2015. Its adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, debt, taxes and amortization) increased to $62.9 million, a 7% improvement compared to first quarter 2015. Parent YRC Worldwide had total revenue of $1.12 billion, virtually the same from the $1.18 billion a year ago.

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