Ports-to-Plains Investors










Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Entries in freight (6)


Automation and the Truck Driver

Transport Topics

June 20, 2017

Automated vehicle technology is coming to trucking, but what will that mean for the truck driver?

This was a prominent topic during Transport Topics’ LiveOnWeb program last week featuring American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear, autonomous vehicle consultant Richard Bishop and Josh Switkes, CEO of truck-platooning firm Peloton Technology.

While conversations about automation often drift toward fully autonomous trucks, that’s still decades away, Spear said.

“I think driver-assist is where we need to put our energy,” he said. “I think that’s the most reachable goal within the next few years, and it could yield tremendous benefits if it’s done right.”

Drivers who are working today will not be put out of work by automation, especially with freight volumes expected to grow and the driver shortage expected to worsen, Peloton’s Switkes said.

“Yes, over time, automation will reduce the number of drivers needed, but for the foreseeable future, that’s just going to slow down the growth of the shortage,” he said. “Eventually, it’ll reduce the driver shortage. The time in the future when there are fewer drivers needed than the amount of drivers we have today is far off.


Cities want to believe in the hyperloop because US infrastructure is so bad

The Verge

April 11, 2017

Shailen Bhatt, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Transportation, has high hopes for the hyperloop. He would like to see one cutting right through the middle of the Rocky Mountain State, connecting half a dozen cities, reducing travel time from hours to mere minutes, and bolstering Colorado’s image as a high-tech destination.

“Freight rail moves freight, high-speed rail moves passengers,” Bhatt said, “Hyperloop has the potential to do both.”

Never mind the fact that no human or freight has ever traveled by hyperloop for the simple reason that there are no hyperloops anywhere in the world. Despite the millions of dollars committed by hopeful investors, the technology has yet to be tested in any meaningful way. LA-based startup Hyperloop One says it just finished its half-kilometer-long test track in the desert north of Las Vegas, and in a few months it will conduct its first full-system test. But as of now, the hyperloop only exists in the spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations of Hyperloop One’s marketing team.

Read on...


Call to Action: Does North Dakota’s Freight System Plan address freight movement western North Dakota and the oil producing regions?

North Dakota Department of Transportation is developing its Freight System Plan.  The Ports-to-Plains Alliance believes it is critical that the plan address freight movements associated with energy development in western North Dakota.

The survey can be completed electronically via this link.

This is the third and final survey soliciting public input for the development of North Dakota’s Freight System Plan. The survey is comprised of three major questions:

  1. Are you aware of any conditions that create a freight bottleneck on North Dakota’s transportation system?
  2. Are you aware of any freight generators that have transportation problems?
  3. Are you aware of any other issues that cause freight traffic to be delayed or backed up?

If you prefer to mail the survey, please send to: Freight Surveys, NDDOT Planning/Asset Management Division, 608 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58505-0700. Thank you for your participation and please return your survey by January 10, 2014.

To ensure everyone answers the questions from the same perspective, NDDOT offers the following definitions:

Freight Bottleneck - A freight bottleneck is a condition (either manmade or natural) that causes freight traffic to be delayed or backed up. Examples of freight bottlenecks may include a load restricted bridge or highway segment, a speed zone, a safety hazard, repetitive flooding or snow blockages, etc.

Freight Generator- A freight generator is a business or a location (e.g. grain elevator, ethanol plant, bulk distribution plant, airport, rail transload facility, etc.) that generates either inbound, outbound, or both inbound and outbound freight movements.

Freight Issue - A freight issue may be a federal, state, or local law or regulation, or an infrastructure design characteristic that impedes the movement of freight.

Reminder: North Dakota’s Freight Transportation System is comprised of highways, rail lines, pipelines and airports so your survey responses may address any or all of these modes.


Freight panel to lawmakers: Increase spending on highways, ports and rail

"The panel found that the current state of highway infrastructure does not adequately serve the needs of those moving goods across the nation," the report says. "Not every community is located adjacent to a railroad, airport, waterway, or port, but a consumer good is almost invariably transported along the nation’s four million miles of highways and roads for at least part of its journey."

Click here for complete article > The Hill

October 29, 2013

A panel that was created by lawmakers to issue suggestions about improving the U.S. freight transportation system is recommending that lawmakers approve more funding for roads and highways.

The House Special Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation issued its findings on Tuesday after holding six hearings with shipping industry stakeholders in places like California, Tennessee, New York and Norfolk, Va.

The panel, which was created earlier this year by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said it was critical for lawmakers to address a $20 billion shortfall in surface transportation that will be facing lawmakers again next year…

Click here to Download Complete Report


Presentation by Jack Schenendorf to the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s 21st Century Freight Transportation Panel – October 10, 2013

All of the revenues generated by the fee (Federal Interstate User Fee) would be deposited in a special account in the Highway Trust Fund and would be used exclusively to modernize the Interstate Highway System.

All of the revenues generated by this fee (Federal Motor Carrier User Fee) would be deposited in a special account in the Highway Trust Fund and would be used exclusively for freight-related improvements, including intermodal facilities.

Complete Presentation

Jack Schenendorf outlines two alternatives to addressing federal transportation revenue needs: Federal Interstate User Fee and a Federal Motor Carrier User Fee. Mr. Schenendorf represents the Ports-to-Plains Alliance and other transportation interests in Washington DC. 


MLA to Ports-to-Plains talk in Texas

“There are still stretches of the highway from here to (Texas) that are still two-lane highways,” he noted. “That’s not the kind of access we need when we look at the growth in oilsands development alone. It’s not just our roads that need to be good, it’s their roads that have to be capable of handling that kind of traffic.”

Click here for complete article > Sherwood Park News

September 30, 2013

Sherwood Park-Strathcona MLA Dave Quest will be talking about many topics during the annual Ports-to-Plains meeting including road conditions between Alberta and Texas as well as projects like Keystone XL. Sherwood Park NewsSherwood Park-Strathcona MLA Dave Quest will be taking a trip to Amarillo, Texas, to speak on behalf of the province at the annual Ports-to-Plains partnership conference being held from Tuesday, Oct. 1 to Thursday, Oct. 3.

The Ports-to-Plains alliance is a non-profit group focused on lobbying to develop the approximately 3,700 kilometre stretch between Lubbock, Texas and Fort McMurray. It started in 2008 and since then the group has been able to raise approximately $1 billion U.S. for improvements along the corridor’s transportation system.

As part of the conference, and because the members of the group are actively focused on improving the roadways between Alberta and Texas, Quest will also be speaking to the Texas Transportation Advisory Committee to provide Alberta’s perspective on some of their road conditions…