Similar enterprises are springing up at ports and railyards across the county, Whelan says, citing new pools at railroad yards in Denver, CO, and Jacksonville, FL, just in the last 18 months. "Faced with these new requirements on roadability, the people that own these resources are finding that it makes a lot more sense, from a business standpoint of trying to maximize the chassis, of having a third party maintain them and eliminate all those various headaches," Whelan explains.
"As time has progressed (the owners) have gotten much better with the equipment, and when the regulations are in effect it will get better still," says Guillot, who sits on the Board of ATA's Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference.
"Now, we're not anywhere near to scratching the surface of how many chassis are actually going to be in a pool," says Whelan, "but the fact that these are coming on board at strategic points and are being evaluated by the equipment providers leads me to believe that that's going to be the way we move. In the interim, if you're an ocean carrier and you've got chassis, you're now going to be responsible for seeing that they're maintained properly, there will be standards as to what that means, and it will be clear that that is your responsibility—deficiencies will be charged to you, not to the driver or the motor carrier. And when we get into who broke what we'll have a far better idea of who is responsible."
SAFETY IS KEY
"The trucking industry's big push all along has been safety," Guillot says. "We want these things safe on the road. It's not our mechanics working on these units; it's the steamship lines', it's the railroads', the leasing companies'. It's their mechanics who work on these things, and if you have your mechanic working on it then you should be responsible for maintaining it, and knowing what's going on with it. Don't put that responsibility solely on the truck driver.
"Maintain the unit properly," he goes on. "Let us do a visual inspection to make sure it's safe from a visual standpoint. But we don't know all the mechanics, we don't know the history—did that particular unit get in a wreck last week? Did that particular unit break down last week? Do we have to double-check the brakes because they just got repaired? We don't know those things.
"As long as they do their part, we'll do our part," Guillot concludes, "and the roads will be safer every day."
Editor's note: Because the intermodal regulations are under review by the White House Office of Management & Budget, they are, as yet, unavailable for publication. For more information, go to: