The Week

The Week

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

Quote of the week: "We don''t want to pretend that this is not going to affect our customers." -- Yuichi Nakagawa, manager of corporate planning at Nippon Express USA, on flight cancellations, delays, diversions under heightened security alert.

Buy a competitor? A vendor? FedEx went even further in the search for new shippers by buying its customers'' vendor, the business services giant Kinko''s. The purchase brings 1,200 storefronts and potentially thousands of walkup customers but it also comes at a $2.4 billion cost. The deal one-ups UPS in the retail storefront game and sends parcel competition into a new arena.

The nation''s top business lobbyist says it''s time for Congress to finally reauthorize the highway spending bill lest the country pay a "horrific price" and the recovery be cut short. U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Tom Donohue wants the full $375 billion to rebuild road, bridges and other infrastructure, money that would come along with an increase in fuel taxes. A tax hike? Election year?

Where''s the beef? Transport operators say it''s floating on oceans as countries ban imports of U.S. beef products following the discovery of the country''s first case of mad cow disease.

Spending on transportation is tight and Kenneth Mead, inspector general of the Department of Transportation says that is exactly why the department needs to bear down on road and air safety. Among his top 10 priorities for DOT this year are airline repair sites and commercial driver licensing.

There will be less room at the inn this year, or at least at the distribution center. Projecting a recovery that reaches into warehouses, a facilities manager says vacancy rates for beleaguered facility operators may have peaked last year and that the economy is growing faster than new space is being added.

New drugs are lining up for regulatory approval and shipping experts say third-party logistics operators need to prepare now to get a piece of the action.

If health and happiness can come in a pill, the pill may be coming from Canada. That''s how some logistics specialists see it as the U.S. appetite for prescription drugs and low prices is spurring growth in cross border warehousing.

Truckers have an additional 60 days before the Department of Transportation will enforce its new driver hours-of-service regulations, which took effect Jan. 4. This is the government''s first rewrite of its HOS regulations in 65 years and federal officials said they want to emphasize education over enforcement as they bring truckers up to speed on the new rules.

Is there $1 billion in between a railroad container and chassis? Railrunner, which offers a chassis that converts from ocean containers to rail cars, believes it. The company says its conversion plan can change the financial equation in short-haul, intermodal markets for railroads.

Carolina Power & Light may gain some $20 million in a Surface Transportation Board coal rate ruling. But some rail experts say other shippers won''t be able to couple to CP&L''s victory over Norfolk Southern, saying it shouldn''t carry much weight in other cases.

Cargo carriers and forwarders are looking for ways to ensure their freight isn''t grounded as the United States cancels and delays flights to Washington, D.C., and other cities. Forwarders fear rerouting cargo will become continuing part of life under the "orange" level terror alert.

If you can''t get a specific rate, how about a range of prices? Ocean forwarders say range rates are a reasonable compromise to price negotiating restrictions in the highly regulated maritime field. But shippers, some warn, seem stubbornly interested in the lower end of any rate range.