Monday, July 20, 2015

Executive Orders & Government Efficiency

No Longer Mutually Exclusive
Last Friday, while still glowing from the light of his papal encounter, the Governor issued an executive order directing his agencies to work together toward a zero emission future for the freight transport network in California. While this should be no surprise to anyone who has been paying remote attention to what has been happening in the golden state, it is still a relative shock to the Goods Movement system and those who exist within it.

California has always been the most progressive state when it comes to environmental protections. Elected officials and the public at large have never shied away from tighter environmental standards whether originating from the floor of the legislature or through the initiative process. The electorate has on more than one occasion indicated their support for environmental stewardship; directly rejecting efforts to water down existing standards, whether it be directed at land, sea or air.
Prior to last week’s Executive Order, CARB was plugging along on their own progressive vision for the freight network, throwing almost everything within the network at the wall to see what stuck.

CARB released their draft sustainability plan for the freight network earlier this year; it looks to every mode of the goods movement system for reductions (See  "Back from The Drawing Board" series ). For the trucking sector, this not only means additional reduction measures, but something that CARB has little if any experience in, efficiency mandates.

Despite the fact that the term government efficiency typically elicits laughter, efficiency is exactly what the government is getting into. Not their own efficiency, mind you, but the effort will involve mandating efficiency measures in the freight transport network that will reduce unnecessary truck trips or at least attempt make the moves more efficient.

Little, if any specifics have been made available on what these measures are. And besides a brief mention of technology, the right turn only route planning for UPS and other existing programs such as PierPASS in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, there is little the industry can look to for an indication on what the heck CARB is planning on doing.

What is of some concern is that although the PierPASS program has been successful in shifting cargo to night gate moves, the same exact inefficiencies exist at marine terminal gates at night that do in the day. Although cargo moves were shifted, PierPASS did nothing to address the extended waiting times that drayage drivers suffer through each time they show up at a gate day or night.
If CARB seriously wants to address some of the system inefficiencies that have plagued the industry for years, there needs to be a deeper examination of what exactly are the underlying causes of system inefficiencies. It can’t just be a surface skim effort that reincarnates existing programs to move cargo off peak hours. It is never that easy.  

While the welcoming sunshine from the Executive Order will illuminate the shadowy work CARB has been doing on the sustainable freight plan, it is an obvious and direct order to those would be the carriers of the children’s future that the Governor means business.
The moonbeam will be shining bright through 2018, so there is a whole heap of time for him to force regulatory measures up and down the supply chain. Hopefully, the efficiency endeavor will bear real fruit and not just more lip service. We have all had enough of that.

Stay Tuned!

Matt Schrap is President of California Fleet Solutions and VP Government Programs for Crossroads Equipment Lease and Finance.