Municipal access and parking are two of the biggest challenges facing the modern trucking industry. Per Stephen Laskowski of the Ontario Trucking Association, communities should work with the trucking industry to entice business investments and jobs to their areas. Still, many cities are resistant to change their policies where freight trucks are concerned, making deliveries tricky at the best of times. Currently, many of the decisions about trucking routes and parking zones are made without any input from the trucking industry. This is not just an issue for large freighters, delivery vans and couriers face similar problems as well. Check out their website at http://www.drivearmellini.com
At the second annual moving Goods and People conference in Ontario, Laskowski spoke of challenges facing companies, such as lack of collaboration with the industry. Trucking routes are often designed without the input of industry experts, and often take drivers on meandering paths to their destinations. Roads and intersections are also usually designed without delivery vehicles in mind. "Some big regions don't work with the trucking industry and… shippers, and I'd say they're missing out on investment they're missing out on jobs," Laskowski said.
Parking, especially in urban areas, also poses a large problem for the industry, per David Turnbull of the Canadian Courier and Logistics Association, who also spoke at the conference. While a 2015 survey by the ATRI did not rank parking as a major concern, many drivers and carriers are worried. In many cities, if a driver is standing near their vehicle, they are within the law. However, when they leave to make their delivery, the vehicle is parked illegally and may be ticketed. As Turnbull stated, "A typical courier delivery takes about six to seven minutes. We're not talking about vehicles parked for hours and hours."
Many suburban and rural areas may have more space to work with, and can therefore offer more loading zones and short term parking, but this poses a real problem for urban sites. With space at a premium, careful planning is needed, especially in the most congested areas, to ensure both ease of access for deliveries and public safety. Turnbull suggested that areas like bus bays could be created for delivery vehicles.
Laskowski also touched on other trials facing the logistics industry, such as safety. Some municipalities are creating totally new safety regulations some that conflict with each other. He cited the incompatibility of regulations in some places that require sideguards designed to protect cyclists and pedestrians, and the new GHG regulations that will require trailers to have aerodynamic side fairings. The two pieces of equipment are not compatible, leaving trucking deliveries without options.
Another issue Laskowski spoke of during the conference was driver automation. "It's about helping make vehicles safer, it's not about eliminating drivers," he said. He also noted that while the technology for semi-autonomous vehicles are swiftly advancing, truck drivers aren't going anywhere any time soon. Despite lackluster job growth within the transportation industry, there is still a shortage of qualified truck drivers that has no end in sight. Laskowski suggested that improving the quality of available drivers was the best solution.
Turnbull observed that planning is the key to future success. "Accommodating growth requires better planning…" he said, and a little cooperation wouldn't hurt either. To stay competitive, Laskowski noted, regions need to set politics aside and cooperate with an industry that could help improve their economies.