TORONTO – “It is incredible that so many urban communities that are wholly dependent upon trucking to deliver the consumer goods and necessities of life can be so decidedly anti-truck.” So said David Bradley, the president and CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), in a speech to the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board held yesterday in Washington, DC. Bradley was invited to speak on panel entitled, Balancing Freight Movement Needs in Liveable Urban Areas, along with academics and planners from the University of Southern California, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and international transportation and infrastructure consulting firm, Wilbur Smith.
Part of the problem, said Bradley, is that too often goods movement in urban settings is “at worst viewed as a necessary evil and at best it is taken for granted.”
“Freight transportation is often an after-thought if not for planners then certainly for politicians,” he said. “We see it in the debate over funding of transit versus roads; in the design of roads and intersections that don’t accommodate modern truck configurations; in the lack of parking for trucks; and inadequate loading/unloading facilities, both old and new.”
He said that if urban communities and the people that plan and ultimately approve of transportation policies and plans want to deal more effectively with freight transportation, they need to get beyond the myths about urban goods movement – such as getting the trucks off the road by using more rail; or that trucks are always running around half-empty; or that trucks are the main cause of congestion – and start dealing with realities.
“Trucks are not going away,” he said. “So we had better start looking for real solutions.”
“Basically, all truckers want is to be able to get into and out of cities quickly, with a minimum of disruption. They want to minimize or reduce the costs of operating in congested urban areas. With the price of fuel and the limits on a driver’s hours of service, that is critical.” Bradley listed a number of things that could be done to help address the situation:
· Encourage more off-peak deliveries – “All our trucks have lights on them, so operating at night is not a problem for us, so long as there is someone there to receive or ship the goods and that is often not the case. If you want to address this, the supply chain needs to be engaged, not just the truckers.”
· Clear traffic incidents more quickly
· Strategic infrastructure investment – “If we’re serious about this we need to: Balance and better coordinate funding for transit and roads; examine the feasibility of truck-only lanes; design roads that accommodate modern truck configurations (citing problems with the design of roundabouts which are growing in popularity); de-politicize decisions on truck routes/bans; and come up with sensible ticketing policies.
Bradley said it is not going to be easy, given that the footprint of most cities was established decades ago, “but try we must if we are going to ensure our communities are liveable and competitive.”