Transportation Club of St. Louis
Pandemic Update and Transportation News
April 2020 brings another chapter of Al’s Corner note. Wow, it really happened, and still is continuing. Is this a bad dream? I have been writing this for over 10 years and nothing compares. Under almost every other circumstance life’s experience for me gave me clarity. Something that reminded me of a similar experience, or something I could lean on for guidance. With this pandemic we are all in the same boat, young or old, it is the same, no reference. Everyone is experiencing in varying degrees of the same things, loss of freedom, fear, fear of the unknown, will I get it and how bad, and when will it end? When it does end will life ever be the same? No one knows, though I am hopeful because we live in the greatest country that has ever existed!
When I started writing this note years ago I did it because:
1. As President of the STL Transportation Club I wanted to promote our club and its events, plus write a Presidents note. So, I continued through the years, but I don’t have any events to promote now.
2. Discuss a transportation related topic and or current events—that I still have.
3. But mostly I have written this because I felt the club needed a monthly note on its website. (and no one else really wanted to do it)
You know I have tried to not make it political even when at times I really it wanted to be. Many of the topics I have written about seemed important at the time. Now comes this, PANDEMIC!
This thing is erratic, unpredictable, unreliable, and inconsistent. One person gets it with little symptoms, some have no symptoms yet can transmit it, others really get sick, and a few die. It seems that I am someone in the higher risks category as I am borderline Diabetic, slightly overweight, and over 60. Now that was not fun to write. I guess we could be grateful that the death ratio, at least in the U.S., is less than 2%, and I hope it will decline because we have the best health care system and country in the world. If we all stay away from each other it should slow the advance.
So, what is it like in the St. Louis area now, at the beginning of April? We are lagging in the amount of cases (thankfully) compared to other major cities in the U.S. The main reasons mostly I think are---not as many people live here, and because St. Louis really isn’t really a global city. We are 19th in population when you add in the entire metropolitan area at 2.85 million. Chicago, is roughly 9.5 million in its metropolitan area, 3rd largest in the U.S. New York (23.7 million), and L.A. (18.7 million) are the biggest and since they are on the coasts, they have many more foreign travelers. They are global cities. So, in the largest cities and areas people live in much tighter spaces. They live in high-rise buildings and spend time in elevators or commuting together on mass transit. So, the virus spreads more easily and quickly. It doesn’t mean we are safe though, not by a long shot.
Some of the biggest issues facing the U.S. currently are the shortage of medical equipment, such as masks, ventilators and hospitals rooms. With the ultimate top of the Bell Curve of cases coming around the middle of April, the country is desperately trying to grow its supply. At this moment some new innovations like the cleansing of masked, so they can be reused are starting to show up. Ventilators and face screens are being made too at homes, auto plants and such. America is starting to kick it in! Freight haulers, drivers, have stepped up in the importance scheme.
Obviously, the unsung heroes in all of this are the First Responders, Medical Staff, and Emergency workers, Volunteers, including the Police, and now, Truck Drivers. Our gratitude, respect and love cannot be expressed any more! The above are not only saving lives but risking theirs. AGAIN, YOU ALL ARE AMAZING!!! I write this with a big tear in my eye!
So, with the spread and virus cases growing the President announced on March 30th that he was “extending social distancing guidelines for another 30 days.” Universally, this measure is agreed to be the best thing for the U.S. at this time, in order to slow this thing down. Daily videos from many Governor’s and the President are on a lot that are providing insight, needs and issues, goals, and clarity. Late last week a stimulus packages was signed by the House, Senate, and President. This package hopefully fills the gap somewhat for individuals and businesses that have, and are being hurt by the loss of income, slowing business and business closures. I think this will be first of many stimulus packages.
“The Transportation side of this.”
As I mentioned earlier, truck drivers are also risking their lives in order to keep America moving. So far, I have not heard of very many cases involving drivers. I pray that continues. For the most part the drivers are isolated from the masses in their truck so I would think they should be ok, better than most jobs. In the beginning there were rumors that truckers were being treated badly, by stopping them from using essential things like bathrooms and food areas in truck stops. If that was true (I don’t think it was widespread) it didn’t last very long. If that is still true it needs to stop!!! Love’s and Fly J are aggressively cleaning and taking extreme safety measures. They are trying to also make it easy and convenient for drivers. Some fast food restaurants are offering drivers convenient food pick up options. Again, thank you to all truck drivers.
Now I do think some logistics companies are struggling if they have customers that are closed or very slow.
Many shippers that provide non-essential products are struggling.
Trucking companies that move non-essential products could be affected, but if they are open to it, other opportunities (different kinds of freight) should be available to fill the void.
I would expect that loads that have east coast destinations will start to be in high demand too. Team loads, emergency loads, should become in high demand as well. I would assume that safety measures like drivers not leaving the truck in order to check in would be enforced. Get in, get out!
I would also hope that some of the bad behavior that has slowly crept back in by some shippers and receivers (making drivers wait excessively, or be unreasonable), will be stopped as the carriers may just say that they just won’t go there.
Drayage Trucking should start to pick up with International containers as import shipping should increase over the next few months. Some of these drivers may be able to supplement their regular business by doing other freight.
That’s it for this note, probably will write more in the next week or 2. Please be safe and do what our leaders are saying that we should do with Social Distancing. It is a weird time that you are being told to stay home and do-nothing group related. Everyone’s life is at stake.
Have a great month,
AL Hursey, President - Rock Farm - St. Louis