Friday, September 16, 2016

Bus gets stuck on Smugglers’ Notch, but there’s a twist

#SMH ... It’s the only acceptable reaction to the latest news coming out of Smugglers’ Notch, the winding section of Vermont Route 108 where large vehicles find themselves getting stuck. I wrote about this road here and here, and due to continued incidents, have been reduced to tweeting about it to save time.

Welp, it happened again. Another large vehicle got stuck at Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont. However, this time it was a bus.

Yup, a motorcoach found itself wedged at the sharp turn at Smugglers’ Notch, which has caused headaches for city and state officials. Before listen to this: The bus will not be fined.

According to Vermont state law, “Commercial vehicles are prohibited from operating on the Smugglers’ Notch segment of Vermont Route 108.” The catch? “As used in this subsection, ‘commercial vehicle’ means truck-tractor-semitrailer combinations and truck-tractor-trailer combinations.”

That’s right. The law does not apply to motorcoaches or any other vehicle type similar in length. Only trucks.

Ripple effect from high seas shipping company failure inevitable

Effects of the Hanjin shipping line collapse continue to spread even as Korean electronics companies and U.S. retailers work desperately to untangle the mess before Christmas shopping season.

Like the fate of many small trucking companies, Hanjin failed because of shipping overcapacity. To keep up with boom-time growth in the early 2000s, major shipping lines ordered massive new container ships. Those orders could not be canceled when the world economy faltered in 2008. The new ships typically handle 19,000 containers compared with the 8,000-container ships regarded as huge just a decade ago.

Just like new trucks bought by optimistic fleets in the early 2000s, those big ships were put in service to generate revenue. All that capacity forced rates down.

Sound familiar?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Truck curfew story fishier than ‘Deadliest Catch’ marathon
A common saying is that if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. Well, the same logic can apply
to outlandish, negative stories. 

If your gut tells you something isn’t right, then that’s probably the case. 

Earlier this week, a questionable website,, posted an article titled “11 States Agree to Implement And Enforce TRUCK Curfew.” The story goes on to say that in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Arkansas, California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Washington will begin enforcing a mandatory truck curfew from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. as soon as this month. 

The brief article uses Department of Transportation representative Donald McCarthy as a source. But the problem is that no one by the name of Donald McCarthy represents the Department of Transportation. 

However, even if you had no way of knowing whether or not McCarthy was a legitimate source, there are plenty of clues to tell us that this article is among the increasing number of fraudulent stories floating around on the internet.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Move over rail intermodal. Meet the autonomous transporter

Last Friday, Texas A&M University rolled out the Freight Shuttle System, a new freight moving

scheme they call simply FSS. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was there to talk it up. A Port of Houston representative said the port may be the first to put the idea to work. 

FSS is a cross between an old-fashioned New York or Chicago elevated line, or “El,” and a Disney World monorail. Like the monorail, FSS is up in the air supported by single pillars. Like a city elevated line, it moves vehicles in both directions at once. FSS requires little real estate and can presumably be built along existing rights of way, even on Interstate medians. The vehicles themselves are autonomous.

At one end, a dedicated crane plucks trailers from power units or containers from chassis and plops them on FSS flatbed-type units. I think of them as pods. The process is reversed at the other end. 

The front and back of an FSS unit look alike. Each resembles the front of a European or Japanese bullet train – very aerodynamic. A single box up to 53 feet long fits between them for the ride. An FSS pod can zip along at speeds up to 70 mph and consume two-thirds less energy than a truck.