CAMP HILL, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA) is pleased to announce that its board of directors has appointed Rebecca K. Oyler as president and chief executive officer (CEO).
Oyler brings a wealth of experience in state government and public policy management to PMTA. She most recently served as Legislative Director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in PA, and, prior to that, for nearly 20 years in several state agencies. She served as Director of Policy for the Pennsylvania Departments of State and the Conservation of National Resources, and as a policy specialist for the Department of Community and Economic Development.
“The PMTA Board of Directors is very pleased to have Rebecca join the team,” said PMTA Board Chairman Mark Giuffre. “She is the right person to lead our organization into the future.”
“I am very excited to join the PMTA team at such an important time,” said Oyler. “The trucking industry has been front and center during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping our economy running, and now, distributing much-needed vaccines and supplies. I’m anxious to lead PMTA’s members as we continue to tackle the recovery, along with other critical issues for the industry.”
Oyler, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University, will begin her duties at PMTA on Monday, February 15, 2021. PMTA Interim President Joe Butzer will oversee the transition.
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Robert “Bob” E. Shoemaker, age 79, of Orrstown, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, February 6, 2021 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on his annual trek to his favorite destination, Florida, with his wife, Constance “Connie” Shoemaker. He was born November 23, 1941 in Amberson, PA, the son of the late Martha (Shoemaker) Gursky and step-father, Julius Gursky.
Bob was an avid race fan and spent part of his youth working on and driving race cars on local tracks. He was a 50+ year member of Pleasant Hall Volunteer Fire Department and served as Chief Engineer for the past several years. Before retiring in 2012, he worked as a mechanic at Stouffer’s Garage for 27 years and then as an OTR Driver for Cressler Trucking in Shippensburg. A loving father and grandfather, Bob always made new friends wherever he went. He possessed the unique ability to talk and befriend almost everyone he met. He was an active member of the PA Motor Truck Association and volunteer as a safety trainer for Federal DOT as well as with local police departments.
Bob is survived by his loving wife, Constance A. (Starliper) Shoemaker of Orrstown; brother, Ted and his wife, Jeanne Gursky of Greenville; sister, Nancy Gursky of Greenville; five children, Patricia Schaffer of Shippensburg, Rick and his wife, Elizabeth Shoemaker of Bloserville, Bobbi and her husband, Ralph Norcross of Chambersburg, Tim and his wife, Tawnya Burkholder of Shippensburg and Traci and her husband, Vernon Johnston of Mechanicsburg; 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. As an avid dog lover, he is also survived by his two remaining fur babies, Madison and Puddles. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Bonnie Gursky and son, Robert “Bobby” Shoemaker.
Professional services are entrusted to Dugan Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc., Shippensburg. Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday, February 16 at 11:00 AM at Dugan Funeral Home and Crematory, 51 Asper Drive, Shippensburg with Pastor Christopher Frye officiating. A Public Viewing will be held from 2 – 4 PM and 6 – 8 PM on Monday, February 15 at the funeral home and Tuesday, February 16 from 10:00 AM until time of services. Interment will be held in Lurgan Cemetery.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and for the safety of all in attendance, those attending are required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing as much as possible. The Shoemaker family would like to express their sincere gratitude to the ambulance service and staff at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, NC and the staff at UNC Chapel Hill, NC.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Robert’s memory to Pleasant Hall Volunteer Fire Department, 9722 Cumberland Highway, PO Box 115, Pleasant Hall, PA 17246.
The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced last week that it plans to increase tolls later this year. The full schedules of proposed toll changes may be viewed on the Commission website at www.drjtbc.org/newtolls. The first schedule is proposed for implementation on or after April 3, 2021. The second is proposed for implementation on or after January 6, 2024. The Commission also has published a webpage — www.drjtbc.org/tollcomments — to provide more information on the adjustments, the comment/hearings process on the proposals, and a series of capital projects that the prospective toll revenues would help fund.
The proposal would establish uniform per-axle rates for Class 2-to-7 vehicles (two or more axles and 8-feet and above in height) at $4.50 for E-ZPass and $5 for cash. Class 2 vehicles currently are charged $3.25 per-axle for E-ZPass and cash; Class 3 vehicles and larger currently are charged $4 per-axle for E-ZPass and cash. This would affect the following locations: Trenton-Morrisville (Route 1), New Hope-Lambertville (Route 202), I-78, Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22), Portland-Columbia (Routes 611, 46, and 94), Delaware Water Gap (I-80), and Milford-Montague (Route 206).
Pursuant to the declaration of emergency issued by the Governor's office, HOS rules have been amended for certain products. Below is the HOS exemption for transportation of essential food, dairy products, and pharmaceuticals to food distribution, retail and wholesale food establishments, and transportation and distribution of agricultural feed, and transportation of motor fuels, heating fuels, and propane. This waiver also applies to the carriers of agricultural feed and the transport of motor and home heating fuels. This exemption is effective immediately and will be in place until February 16, 2021. Maximum driving time is extended from 11 to 14 hours with 10 consecutive hours off and exempts the 60/70 rule. Haulers will be required to have a copy of this information with them while utilizing this exemption.
Download the exemption here.
Act 133 of 2008 and Act 131 of 2020 allow the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to waive the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Knowledge and/or Skills Test for Pennsylvania residents who are active or reserve duty military or recent honorably discharged veterans, provided those service members have at least two years' experience operating a commercial motor vehicle as part of their military job requirements. The waiver applies to CDL applicants who wish to operate vehicles similar to those they operated in the military.
Military members and recently separated veterans must first apply for a CDL by completing a DL-31CD (PDF), "Application to Add/Extend/Remove Commercial Driver's License", and return it to PennDOT along with the DL-11CD (PDF), "Self Certification Form" and applicable fee. The applicant will be sent a Knowledge Test Authorization Letter which they will take to their nearest Driver License Center to take the applicable knowledge tests. After successfully completing all applicable CDL knowledge testing, the applicant must present a completed DL-398 (PDF), "Military Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Skills Test Waiver Application". For more information about the CDL Skills Test Waiver and to find out if you are eligible, please refer to the Military Commercial Driver's License Skills Testing Waiver Fact Sheet (PDF). Please visit the Locations Information Center to find a Driver License Center near you.
The Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing on PennDOT's P3 Bridge Tolling Initiative yesterday January 25, 2021, at 11:30 a.m.
Both Interim President Joe Butzer and Chairman Mark Giuffre provided written testimonies to the committee and spoke during the hearing. You can read Mr. Butzer's testimony here, and you can read Mr. Giuffre's testimony here.
Mr. Butzer also provided the Committee with this PowerPoint presentation that outlines the effect of Act 89 (passed in 2013) and the considerable increases it made in the cost of operating a truck in Pennsylvania.
DOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian spoke to the committee after remarks from the PMTA representatives.
You can read more about the hearing here. And here (PennLive Paywall).
PMTA is dedicated to standing up for our industry and will continue the effort to stop this bridge tolling initiative in our state.
Court Unanimously Confirms FMCSA’s Authority to Review State Commercial Vehicle Rules
Arlington, Virginia – Today, American Trucking Associations hailed a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upholding the federal preemption of the state of California’s meal and rest break rules as they apply to truck drivers subject to federal hours-of-service regulations.
“The Court’s ruling is a victory for common sense over bureaucracy and the plaintiffs bar,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “When the Department of Transportation preempted California’s rules, it was a victory for highway safety, ensuring that there is one uniform standard for trucking regulations. By upholding DOT’s authority to be the sole regulator of interstate trucking, the Ninth Circuit is preventing states and trial lawyers from creating a costly and inefficient patchwork of competing rules.”
In 2018, after bipartisan efforts to enact a legislative fix failed, ATA petitioned the Department of Transportation to preempt California’s meal and rest break rule, preventing them from being enforced against interstate truck drivers, noting the rules would force those drivers to comply with two competing sets of hours-of-service rules.
Today’s unanimous ruling by the Ninth Circuit found that not only does the federal government have the authority to review and preempt state safety rules, but the three-judge panel agreed with the DOT’s conclusion that “federal regulations adequately and more appropriately balanced the competing interests between safety and economic burden,” than allowing states to impose a patchwork of competing regulations.
“We hope this ruling sends a strong message to other states that they are not allowed to impose additional regulatory burdens on interstate commerce,” Spear said. “We thank DOT and the Court for upholding the principle that federal regulatory primacy is critical for maintaining safe and efficient transportation.”
(January 13, 2021)--Summary: The Turnpike Commission raised tolls again in 2021. It did so to meet the funding mandate placed on it to pay for mass transit and road and bridge projects across the commonwealth. The commission issues debt against toll revenues to pay PennDOT $450 million per year. The commission’s debt level has reached nearly $15 billion and is likely to keep rising. ____________________________________________________________________
It’s that time of year again. No, not for making resolutions but for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) to increase tolls. It has increased tolls annually since 2009 to satisfy a funding requirement under Act 44 of 2007, which was created to provide money for public transit, roads and bridges. The commission’s annual commitment is for $450 million with $250 million going toward public transit and the remainder for road and bridge repair.
Act 44’s original intent was for the PTC to lease Interstate 80 from PennDOT pending federal approval (Policy Brief, Vol. 7, No. 59) at a price of $900 million per year (the payments increased over time from $750M in 2008 to $900M in 2010). Once the federal government denied the request to toll I-80, the payments from the PTC to PennDOT remained, although lowered to $450 million through 2057, leaving the PTC no alternative than to use existing toll revenue from the turnpike.
Even though the payments were reduced to $450 million, the PTC’s plan was to float bonds against toll revenues and pay the debt service with toll increases which were to continue annually until 2050. Act 89 of 2013 amends the earlier requirement so that the $450 million payment will end in fiscal 2022; it also specifies that $30 million of the $450 million is to come from current PTC revenues with the remainder to be funded through bond issues (PTC Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for fiscal years ended May 30, 2020 and 2019). Beginning with fiscal 2023 that payment falls to $50 million, which is to be paid from current revenues.
But as previous Briefs have documented this borrowing has resulted in deterioration of the PTC’s financial position as the debt has climbed rapidly.
When Act 44 of 2007 was passed, the PTC had $2.5 billion in total bonds outstanding with $1.66 billion in mainline bonds (67 percent of total)—the bonds financing the Act 44 payments. The remainder are bonds issued against revenues from the oil franchise tax and motor license fund. By fiscal 2011 that amount tripled to $7.7 billion with $6.5 billion in mainline bonds (84 percent). The latest CAFR shows that for fiscal 2020, which ended May 31, 2020, total outstanding debt is now approaching $15 billion ($14.96 billion) with 90 percent ($13.43 billion) comprised of mainline debt.
Mainline debt is issued against toll revenues and the ability to pay depends upon traffic. In fiscal 2007 the PTC noted that 185.4 million vehicles used the turnpike. With $1.66 billion in mainline debt, the per vehicle debt for mainline bonds stood at $8.93. By fiscal 2011 the per vehicle debt rose nearly 400 percent to $34.29 and then to $57.57 in fiscal 2019 when 214.6 million vehicles used the turnpike and the mainline debt was $12.35 billion.
The final quarter of fiscal 2020 (March, April and May) was heavily impacted by the pandemic (see Policy Brief Vol. 20, No. 17). For fiscal 2020, the PTC shows that 190.5 million vehicles used the turnpike, an 11 percent decline from fiscal 2019, for a mainline debt per vehicle of $70.51. Bear in mind that most of fiscal 2020 was over before the pandemic started.
As mentioned above, the Turnpike Commission relies on toll revenues to retire the debt. For the first six months of fiscal 2021 (June through November 2020) traffic totals are well off the pace from previous years. Using the data from the PTC’s monthly traffic reports, exit data for these months show that 64.3 million vehicles (all classes) used the system—23.4 percent fewer than during those same months in 2019 (June through November of fiscal 2020).
Traffic is broken out between passenger (class 1) and commercial (classes 2-9). According to the CAFR, passenger vehicles in fiscal 2020 paid 53 percent of the toll revenues while commercial vehicles paid the remaining 47 percent. This ratio has changed over the last few years when from 2011-2017 passenger vehicles paid approximately 57 percent with commercial vehicles paying the remaining 43 percent of toll revenue.
This is likely to change even further as the drop in passenger traffic during those first six months of fiscal 2021 is greater than that of commercial vehicles (27.3 percent vs. 1.5 percent) as more people choose not to travel for either business or pleasure. However, during the pandemic deliveries of goods to stores and factories were largely maintained while passenger traffic slowed significantly due to state ordered restrictions and fewer commuters.
And with pandemic conditions still prevalent, traffic levels are not likely to rebound in the second half of fiscal 2021 which will leave the PTC with even fewer toll dollars to meet expenditures. In fact, outside consultants have estimated that it will be a couple of years, perhaps by 2025, before traffic volumes return to pre-pandemic levels.
This is going to put more strain on the commission’s ability to pay down this debt.
The current total net position (assets minus liabilities) of the PTC is a negative $6.69 billion. Total net position was first reported for the PTC in fiscal 2012 when it was a negative $2.05 billion. The metric prior to that was called total net assets. The last positive amount occurred in 2009 ($156.48 million). The PTC has been running a negative net position for the last 11 years. At some point this will affect the commission’s ability to borrow—either through a higher interest rate or even at all.
The PTC has taken some cost-cutting measures. According to the CAFR, it “instituted a hiring freeze for both management and union positions.” But more importantly the PTC “approved a measure … to lay off approximately 500 employees, primarily fare collection-related employees.” This continues a trend. In fiscal 2011 there were 852 employees in toll collection. By fiscal 2020 that number declined to 601—a nearly 30 percent drop. An additional 500 employees will leave just around 100 employees in that function.
The CAFR also claims the PTC will be cutting “capital spending by 25.0% to include Turnpike System protection projects only.” It also states that “(t)he Commission has no legal obligation to complete the unfinished portions of the Mon/Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway projects at this time.” We questioned the rationale and justification of extending the Mon/Fayette Expressway (Policy Brief Vol. 17, No. 27) and this project should be dropped.
The PTC has been placed in an awkward position in having to borrow against toll revenue to meet an obligation to fund mass transit and PennDOT’s road and bridge projects. The inescapable results are annual toll increases on the turnpike system. This strategy has plunged the PTC deeply into debt. The pandemic has already added to the funding difficulties and is expected to hamper toll revenues for quite a few years more. The PTC has taken some steps in reducing personnel costs that should help going forward. While it will see some relief as required payments will fall next year, travelers of the turnpike will not be so fortunate as tolls will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
Frank Gamrat, Ph.D., Executive Director
If you wish to support our efforts please consider becoming a donor to the Allegheny Institute. The Allegheny Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all contributions are tax deductible. You can donate through our website or mail your contribution to:
The Allegheny Institute
305 Mt. Lebanon Boulevard
In the Pennsylvania Interim Vaccine Plan Version Four that was released on Friday transportation and logistics employees were listed in phase 1C.
Phase 1 vaccine administration applies when initial doses of vaccine first become available and are in limited supply (very limited supply initially) compared to demand. With this occurring, DOH, following CDC and ACIP recommendations, has divided Phase 1 into Phase 1A, 1B and 1C. The focus is on the target populations advised by the CDC to include:
Phase 1C: Pennsylvania anticipates further increases in vaccine availability. On December 22, 2020, ACIP recommended to vaccinate in Phase 1C persons aged 65–74 years, persons aged 16–64 years with medical conditions that increase or may increase the risk for severe COVID-19, and essential workers not included in Phase 1B. The populations identified in this section will be eligible for vaccination in Phase 1C unless already eligible and vaccinated under another category in Phase 1A or Phase 1B.
Phase 1C: Essential workers: Essential workers who do not meet criteria to make them eligible in Phase 1A or 1B will be vaccinated in this phase. “Essential workers” refers to the ACIP’s definition that can be found here and is based on the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s guidance. This only includes workers who are essential to continue critical infrastructure and maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and workers who cannot perform their duties remotely and must work in close proximity to the public.
Sectors recommended by ACIP for vaccination in Phase 1C include*:
o Transportation and logistics
o Water and Wastewater
o Food Service
o Housing Construction
o Finance, including bank tellers
o Information technology
o Energy, including Nuclear Reactors
o Legal Services
o Federal, state, county and local government workers, including county election workers, elected officials and members of the judiciary and their staff
o Public Safety
o Public Health Workers
*CDC indicates an intention to publish additional information on essential workers and DOH will review and incorporate into future versions of the plan.
Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today that expiration dates for commercial driver licenses and commercial learner's permits will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
The following products' expiration dates will be extended:
Expiration extension deadlines on non-commercial driver license, photo identification cards, learner's permits and camera cards ended on August 31, 2020.
For a list of open driver license and photo license centers and the services provided, as well as their hours of operation, please visit www.dmv.pa.gov.
Customers may continue to complete various transactions and access multiple resources online at www.dmv.pa.gov. Driver and vehicle online services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver's license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; driver license and photo ID duplicates; and schedule a driver's exam. There are no additional fees for using online services.
PennDOT will continue to evaluate these processes and will communicate any changes with the public.
Additional COVID-19 information is available at www.health.pa.gov. For more information, visit www.dmv.pa.gov or www.PennDOT.gov.
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