According to the latest survey done by the BC Trucking Association (BCTA), the industry doesn’t expect to return to pre-COVID-19 business levels for another 10 to 11 months.
That time is thought to be far longer for motor coach companies, who expect to face up to another 20 months of recovery from the harsh changes imposed by the pandemic.
BCTA conducted a third COVID-19 Impact Survey of its members, and found that 92 per cent of motor coach company respondents indicated they are concerned about the survival of their business.
For trucking, 32 per cent of respondents are concerned about survival.
Trucking companies have, on average, experienced a 23 percent drop in revenue, a slight improvement of seven percent from our previous survey in April, when revenue fell, on average, by 30 per cent.
Ken Johnson, general manager of Ken Johnson Trucking Ltd., in Langley, simplified the problem, explaining that miles are down, revenue is down, and costs have increased.
“It’s been dramatic and traumatic,” Johnson said, unsure if hitting the 30 per cent drop is a major problem or a blessing given that they now qualify for more government aid.
He’s not yet laid anyone off – instead reducing hours of employees to three days a week.
“Our older, shall we say, more mature drivers, said ‘hey, we’re going to stay home. We’ll take vacation for the next few weeks’,” Johnson explained. “They’re the ones without young families or mortgages to worry about.”
As for the job itself, Johnson said most customers have come around and let drivers inside. He doesn’t blame business owners for initial precautions, but felt the move caused a more emotional struggle for his employees.
“It doesn’t make sense that they want the load but they don’t want you,” he pointed out.
“It’s hard on all of our people. It’s a social job. You’re by yourself for long periods, but the people you deliver to become like family, so it’s hard on everyone when you can’t see each other,” Johnson added.
BCTA is assisting our members by developing health protocols and guidance for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), approved by the Provincial Health Office, to ensure that our trucking and motor coach members are equipped to effectively address working within parameters imposed by COVID-19.
Johnson couldn’t give an answer of what was in store for the future, saying that it’s a lot of wait and see right now for the trucking industry.
“I’d like to say we’re heading back to normal. Is it going to be changed and were heading to a new normal? Yes, but we don’t know what that looks like quite yet,” Johnson admitted.
More-so than a stable industry, Johnson wants the public to remember the importance of the industry and what truckers do.
“I don’t like the term truckers – I prefer professional drivers,” Johnson said. “People saw professional drivers as an essential service and hope they stay that way in people’s minds.”
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