The Week

The Week

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

Quote of the week: "These trucks should not leak like a carton of spilled milk." -- Gerald Donaldson of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

C-TPAT is heading for its second anniversary with plaudits from shippers for focusing resources on supply-chain security. But they question whether the government''s first large response to cargo security in the wake of September 11 is delivering on its promise to speed cross-border cargo while protecting against real terror threats.

Can $300 million plug the nation''s network of leaky dams and locks? The Waterways Council wants the federal government to spend that amount each year for the next 10 years to shore up our aging inland waterways. Half of that money should come from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, the council said.

Dutch mail, express and logistics group TPG N.V. takes the old adage "charity begins at home" seriously. It has transformed logistics for the United Nations'' World Food Program, streamlining distribution systems and training relief workers for the world''s largest humanitarian agency. As a result the WFP is becoming more agile and effective.

Trucking companies that rely on cellular digital packet data technology for mobile communications will have to find an alternative by July, when AT&T Wireless says it will discontinue support of CDPD. The good news: AT&T already has replacement technology in place.

International trade logistics software, once touted as a way to improve border security and global shipping, has faded from prominence, analysts say, because the software can''t be sold "out-of-the box." However, some experts say increasing regulation of trade may drive up demand.

Cargo flown on freighters will surpass belly cargo for the first time this year, and by the middle of 2005 more than half the world''s air cargo may fly on freighters. The shift is accelerated by the threat of security restrictions. But longer term trends have passenger and cargo planes flying in different directions.

Integrator BAX Global is selling space on its domestic overnight freighter network to selected forwarders, following the lead of the parcel carriers. Cargo agents say they''re stepping carefully into a new relationship with a competitor.

Safety advocates want stronger, more flexible, truck-resistant barriers on highways in the aftermath of a fiery tanker accident near Baltimore. Tank truck industry officials defended the safety record of their trucks and drivers, noting that there are about 48,000 fuel trucks on the road every work day. The accident may have been caused by "product surge" in a partially loaded rig driven at excess speed on an elevated curved highway.

Swift Transportation raised its NAFTA transport status a notch by becoming the first U.S. trucking company to own 100 percent of a Mexican carrier. On the U.S. side of the border, truckload carriers are working with Hispanic organizations to recruit and train bilingual truck drivers.

Frank Mulvey says he knows the plight of shippers, but captive rail customers want more than understanding from Mulvey if he is confirmed as the next member of the Surface Transportation Board. They want more balance on a board they feel is skewed against them. Can Mulvey deliver?

Now there''s a billing error: the U.S. Postal Service claims airlines overcharged it $233 million last year for international mail transport, four-and-a-half times the $50 million it says it should have paid. It wants federal regulators to freeze international mail rates rather than go forward with a planned rate hike. The dispute will hardly help airlines seeking to recover lost letter business.

State regulators and environmentalists want ports in efforts to improve air quality, and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in smoggy Southern California top their list. The Port of Los Angeles is looking for a tenant for a planned "green" terminal and negotiating a new settlement to a dispute with the National Resources Defense Council. The Port of Long Beach, meanwhile, is working to reduce emissions from container handling equipment by 25 percent.