This March marked the start of my second term on the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) Research Advisory Committee (RAC). RAC members meet several times each year, virtually and in person, to propose, debate, and prioritize a list of potential research topics for the institute. ATRI staff then presents the committee’s proposed topics to the Board of Directors at the annual meeting.
One example of research projects generated by the ATRI staff is the annual report, An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking. I wrote about the value of benchmarking operational costs for motor carriers last year. The report offers great industry information for motor carriers, but it also provides insight to those who have the ability to impact individual cost elements, like fuel tax and insurance.
The value proposition of the annual report was on display during a conversation I had with Rebecca Brewster, president and CEO of ATRI, at the last ATRI RAC annual meeting. A hot topic throughout the conference was transportation infrastructure, specifically the widening gap between transportation infrastructure needs and revenue.
Mrs. Brewster summarized it best by saying that in prioritizing infrastructure needs and investment, it is critical that public sector decision makers and transportation planners understand the value of the investment to the users. Understanding the real costs of operating a truck is a key part of that equation. Because the ATRI’s operational cost data is widely recognized as the source of true trucking industry operational cost data, it has been incorporated into transportation planning models that calculate the value of expanded or reconfigured infrastructure. It is also used to more accurately value transportation operations strategies, such as traffic incident management to quickly and safely clear incidents.
The report would not be possible without the voluntary participation from a diverse group of for-hire motor carriers. Now is your chance to be part of the solution. ATRI is asking for-hire carriers to provide operational cost through a brief online survey. The information will remain confidential; results will be included in the 2015 An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking report, which will be available in the fall. Take the survey now—and thank you in advance for your help!