Duncan 'disappointed' with ATA

Duncan 'disappointed' with ATA

Copyright 2003, Traffic World, Inc.

Douglas G. Duncan is hardly a bomb-thrower. A lifelong trucker and polite to a fault, Duncan is focused on giving customers what they want, making a profit and trying to improve his company's bottom line.

But the president and CEO of FedEx Freight says he's "disappointed" in his national trade group, the American Trucking Associations, taking a stance that effectively prohibits further use of longer-combination vehicles for the foreseeable future.

The ATA recently ballyhooed its "truce" over LCVs with the Association of American Railroads, which won a freeze on further use of triples in the 1991 highway bill. The two groups agreed not to pursue further use or to try to reduce current use of those highly productive vehicles.

"I represent the dissenting opinion," Duncan told the Transportation Table. "We're a part of the ATA, I have a lot of confidence in their new president (Bill Graves), but we're disappointed in that."

Duncan said truckers are faced by a barrage of higher costs from a variety of sources - more tolls, higher fuel and registration taxes, among them - as states try to balance their budgets on the backs of the motor carrier industry.

"Trucking is under a lot of cost increases," he said. "I'm of the opinion, with all this in play, taking off the table the productivity gains of longer-combination vehicles ... is a mistake."

Duncan agrees with observers who believe the ATA-AAR truce cannot last because of the necessarily divergent interests of the two trade groups.

"I have a hard time seeing how this will stay together, given the rail and trucking agendas," he said.