Trucking companies, though providing essential supplies like food, fuel and medical equipment, are struggling with severe decreases in demand for transporting other types of cargo. (Langley Advance Times files)

BC Trucking Association sees significant revenue losses and increasing staff layoffs amid COVID-19

Trucking companies have, on average, experienced a 29.8 per cent drop in revenue since March

The BC Trucking Association (BCTA) says that results of a second COVID-19 Impact Survey of its members, focusing on operational challenges for April, indicate that trucking and motor coach companies and suppliers are severely strained by the ongoing effect of the pandemic, including significant revenue losses and increasing staff layoffs.

Dave Earle, BCTA president and CEO said members have been incredibly heartened by the public’s growing awareness of the essential role that the industry plays in their lives.

“But in these extraordinary times, we’re hard hit. The viability of the road transportation industry and the economy always go hand in hand,” Earle noted.

BCTA has been carrying out monthly COVID-19 surveys of all its members.

Following implementation in March, the association surveyed members a second time for operations in April and said it will continue to trace the trajectory of the pandemic’s effect.

Results of the second COVID-19 Impact Survey indicate that:

· Trucking companies have, on average, experienced a 29.8 percent drop in revenue, a further drop of 9.3 per cent following the first survey in March,

· Motor coach companies continue to be hardest hit by COVID-19 measures, with an average 96.1 per cent drop in revenue, a further 4 per cent reduction from March,

· Industry suppliers, BCTA’s associate members, realized a 35.9 per cent drop in revenue, a further 7.7 per cent drop compared to March.

Trucking companies, though providing essential supplies like food, fuel and medical equipment, are struggling with severe decreases in demand for transporting other types of cargo, including cross border and in support of Asia-Pacific trade.

As well, too many return trips are empty.

“None of these numbers are good, but we’re especially concerned about motor coach companies,” Earle said. “BC’s motor coach businesses have been devastated by the shutdown of tourism, the cruise ship industry, ski hills and parks, and headline concerts and entertainment events.”

Large numbers of commercial vehicles are parked, whether heavy trucks or buses, and, relatedly, the businesses that supply new vehicles, parts, insurance, and other services are similarly strained.

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As employers, BCTA members are also struggling to keep staff working, and layoffs increased from March to April, in spite of government wage subsidy and other programs:

· For trucking companies, 37 per cent of survey respondents had to temporarily lay off an average of 5 employees in March. By April, 53 per cent of businesses responding reported an average 22 temporary layoffs, and 24 per cent reported an average of 2 permanent layoffs.

· For motor coach companies, 77 per cent responding temporarily laid off an average of 25 employees in March. In April, 92 per cent of respondents reported an average of 41 temporary layoffs, with 15 per cent reporting an average of 17 permanent layoffs.

· For associate members, 42 per cent of respondents had to temporarily lay off an average of 24 employees in March. In April, 40 percent of respondents reported laying off an average of 34 employees. Among these businesses, 10 percent of respondents had to permanently lay off an average of 7 employees; in April, 7 percent of respondents reported permanent layoffs of an average of 11 employees.

Overall, 85 percent of motor coach respondents indicated they were concerned about the survival of their business if current conditions continue for at least the next three months, compared to 37 percent of motor carrier respondents, and 18 percent of associate member respondents.

Despite the negative impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the commercial road transportation industry in BC, about 90 percent of BCTA’s members support government measures to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our industry appreciates current federal and provincial government relief measures,” Earle confirmed, “but further action is required to ensure the protection of BC’s supply chain in response to COVID-19 and its aftermath. We recommend strategies like expanding provincial sales tax exemptions for equipment and continued support for investment in clean technology. ”

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Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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