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Maryland governor calls for new highway contract

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ANNAPOLIS, Md.  — Gov. Larry Hogan directed state transportation officials on Friday to seek a new contract for a multimillion highway expansion after a news report raised questions about ties between Maryland’s transportation secretary and the winning bidder.

Hogan said the $68.5 million deal that was supposed to go before a board this week “lacked the clarity needed to ensure full faith in this process.”

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, Hogan wrote that the department used a waiver process made possible by procurement reform approved last year by the General Assembly relating to public-private partnerships to create a more flexible and efficient process.

“However, a focus on speed cannot and should not ever come at the expense of the full and complete transparency that the taxpayers of Maryland expect and deserve,” Hogan wrote.

The governor also wrote he has been committed to the highest level of transparency from the beginning of his administration.

“I am not satisfied that our threshold for transparency has been met in this case,” Hogan wrote. “However unintentionally, the department’s communications with the state’s chief fiscal officers on the Board of Public Works, upon which I sit, as well as the public, have lacked the clarity need to ensure full faith in this process.”

The contract was pulled from the Board of Public Works agenda after The Daily Record reported on questions about ties between Rahn and the winning bidder. Rahn was employed by the consortium leader in the contract, HNTB Corp., before he joined Hogan’s administration.

Rahn told the newspaper Monday that the Maryland State Ethics Commission cleared his involvement two weeks ago. He said his dinner with an HNTB executive was a get-together with a friend that he paid for himself. He also said he doesn’t currently have stock or financial ties to the company.

The interview was the first time he had disclosed he previously did own stock in the company. The Daily Record reported Wednesday that Rahn will amend his state financial disclosure filings after failing to disclose the ownership and later sale of HNTB stock.

Rahn said in a statement Friday he will not be involved in the new procurement process.

“While all of our actions during this process were consistent with state law, policies and procedures governing this type of procurement, I nevertheless should have been more aware that this complicated process would give rise to questions,” Rahn said.

The contract would have paid a consortium of companies to oversee part of Hogan’s $7.6 billion highway expansion plan to relieve traffic congestion in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. HTNB was to be the leader of the consortium.

Hogan directed the transportation department to work closely with legislative leaders, stakeholders and members of the Board of Public Works, which is comprised of Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp.

“The State Highway Administration will be conducting the procurement as quickly as possible to keep the Traffic Relief Plan moving forward,” said Erin Henson, a spokeswoman for the transportation department.

 

 

 

 

 

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Convoy launches Convoy Go, a grab and go system

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Graphic shows the operational model for Convoy Go. (Courtesy: CONVOY)

SEATTLE — Convoy, a nationwide trucking network and platform, has launched Convoy Go, a drop and hook marketplace that allows any carrier or owner-operator in the U.S. to start hauling pre-loaded trailers, and to operate at the same level as large asset-based carriers.

Drop shipments, or pre-loaded trailers, currently represent the majority of Fortune 500 company shipments.

To date, most of these shipments have been serviced by large asset-based carriers.

Convoy Go enables any carrier or owner-operator in the U.S. using the Convoy app to operate at the same level as large asset-based carriers, in terms of fleet utilization, service levels and access to shipments.

With its drop and hook marketplace, Convoy Go creates a seamless “grab and go” system, where carriers simply bring their power unit, pick up a pre-loaded trailer and hit the road, according to Tito Hubert, product lead for Convoy Go. To accomplish this, Convoy Go leverages its Universal Trailer Pool, a nationwide pool of Convoy-managed trailers that can be used by any driver in Convoy’s network, with no rental fees, he said.

“Convoy’s data shows that up to a third of the cost of truck freight in the U.S. is attributable to time spent either waiting for appointments, or waiting at the dock to load and unload,” Hubert said. “This massive amount of waste has a direct impact on increased transportation costs, decreased drivers’ earnings and reduced overall trucking capacity for shippers. We built Convoy Go to enable drivers to increase their productivity and earnings, all while providing shippers with greater capacity.”

He said Convoy Go reduces driver wait time in facilities from an average of three hours to less than an hour and provides five- to-10 hour appointment windows, offering drivers more flexibility to optimize their schedule.

Together, this translates into increases of carrier productivity of up to 50%. Carriers can find, book and complete a load, all using the Convoy app. Convoy’s Universal Trailer Pool is shared across all shippers and trucking companies, Hubert said.

Since Convoy initially piloted this offering in 2017, the company has worked with select shippers and thousands of drivers to tune the model across the Northeast, Southeast, South and West regions. Today, the program is available to all shippers and carriers nationwide.

Carriers, most of which are doing drop and hook loads for the first time, experience shorter wait times at facilities and flexible appointment windows, which translate directly into increased carrier productivity:

Convoy is a nationwide trucking network and platform striving to transform the $800B U.S. trucking industry. With Convoy, carriers get access to a free mobile app that allows them to find loads they want, save time, drive fewer miles empty, and get paid quickly. Hubert said shippers use Convoy’s data-driven insights and industry-leading service levels to book loads, improve their supply chain operations, lower costs, and reduce waste.

 

 

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Schneider says it will use its assets to enhance middle mile capabilities

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With its acquisition of Watkins & Shepard Trucking in 2016, Schneider became a provider in first to final mile delivery of over-dimensional goods for omnichannel retailers and manufacturers. (Courtesy: SCHNEIDER)

GREEN BAY, Wis. —  With its end-to-end delivery portfolio, Schneider says it is able to deliver seamless shipping that keeps businesses one step ahead from the first to the final mile. The middle mile, which provides connectivity from and between local last-mile terminals, is equally as important as its first- and final-mile counterparts.

To optimize the movement of freight through its 24 terminal networks across 48 states, Schneider is broadening its middle-mile configuration to include its van truckload and intermodal owned assets, according to Rob Bulick, senior vice president and general manager of First to Final Mile.

With its acquisition of Watkins & Shepard Trucking in 2016, Schneider became a provider in first to final mile delivery of over-dimensional goods for omnichannel retailers and manufacturers.

Schneider now capitalizes on the full force of its broad network for the middle and final mile, with access to more than 10,700 trucks, 22,000 intermodal containers and a suite of technology tools for comprehensive freight management, Bulick said.

Throughout this process, Schneider is able to fully apply its proprietary network optimization system to freight within the middle mile to enhance consistency of the engineered network. An engineered network determines required departure and processing times, expected delivery times and regulates workflow through the terminals.

Schneider’s engineering management tools apply data-driven recommendations to optimize operations and manage the movement of freight through the middle mile. The overall engineered network will also contribute to standardizing pricing and transit, he said.

“Full incorporation of Schneider’s assets into the middle-mile service offering will reduce the number of freight handlings through the terminal network, ultimately reducing product claims. This optimization will also improve driver efficiency and increase consistency in service standards and delivery times,” Bulick said.

Along with middle-mile optimization, Schneider is implementing a standardized delivery day for ZIP codes, creating predictability.

Customers will be provided with the exact transit flow of their shipment, as well as a projected day and time for delivery from ZIP code to ZIP code for a holistic, end-to-end scheduled solution.

“A seamless delivery experience – whether it’s the first mile, the last mile or the miles in between – means there’s a consistent, reliable network working hard for a customer’s business,” Bulick said. “Expanding our middle-mile strength to include Schneider’s owned assets and data-driven network optimizations ensures we’re constantly meeting the high expectations for final-mile delivery that customers and consumers can depend on and trust.”

To learn more about how Schneider’s and Watkins’ end-to-end portfolio of services makes for smooth first to final mile deliveries, visit https://schneider.com/our-services/first-to-final-mile.

 

 

 

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No spring break for spot van, reefer rates

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The map shows the various rate ranges for van load to rate ratios. (Courtesy: DAT TRENDLINES)

PORTLAND, Ore. — National average spot van and refrigerated freight rates slipped again during the week ending April 13 as the number of load posts fell 4% while truck posts increased 3%.

The arrival of produce season in several southern markets failed to make up for the effects of more capacity in the spot market and bad weather across much of the country, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

Here are the national average spot rates:

  • Van: $1.83/mile, 2 cents lower than the March average
  • Flatbed: $2.37/mile, 3 cents higher than March
  • Reefer: $2.15/mile, 2 cents lower than March

Van trends

How soft are spot van rates? Pricing was lower on 76 of the top 100 van lanes last week. Only 23 lanes saw rates rise and one lane was neutral.

Van load-to-truck ratios have not held up after a promising start to April, with the national average sitting at 1.3 loads for every available truck. The good news is that load counts rose nearly 5% in Chicago and Houston, and more than 3% in Los Angeles last week—major markets for spot van freight.

Markets to watch: Outbound rates were down from Los Angeles, Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte to Allentown, Pennsylvania, gave up 13 cents to $2.08/mile, and rates fell on two Buffalo-inbound lanes: Columbus to Buffalo, down 19 cents to $2.66/mile, and Chicago to Buffalo, off 19 cents to $2.31/mile.

Reefer trends

Prices rose on 38 of the top 72 reefer lanes last week. Thirty-one lanes were lower and three were neutral. Higher volume in Florida and California was balanced out by lower volume from the Upper Midwest and Texas, which hurt spot reefer pricing overall.

Markets to watch: Lakeland, Florida, volumes spiked nearly 27% last week while the average outbound rate climbed 2 cents to $1.57/mile. Let’s see if Lakeland rates trace the pattern in Miami, where a big jump in volume two weeks ago was followed by a nice gain in the average outbound rate ($1.80/mile, up 13 cents). Meanwhile, several lanes from Florida and California produced strong rates:

  • Fresno, California, to Denver up 40 cents to $2.24/mile
  • Fresno to Boston gained 19 cents to $2.23/mile
  • Miami to Baltimore up 29 cents to $2.00/mile
  • Miami to Elizabeth, New Jersey, rose 15 cents to $1.82/mile

The Imperial Valley is underperforming for reefer freight: last week the average outbound rate from Ontario, California, was $2.51/mile, down 8 cents, on 9% lower volume.

DAT Trendlines are generated using DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. The RateView database is comprised of more than $60 billion in freight payments. DAT load boards average 1.2 million load posts searched per business day.

For the latest spot market loads and rate information, visit dat.com/trendines and follow @LoadBoards on Twitter.

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