Miguel Elizalde Lizarraga
President
National Association of Bus, Truck and Tractor Truck Producers (ANPACT)
/
Expert Contributor

Freight and Passenger Transport: Facing the Upcoming Challenges

By Miguel Elizalde | Wed, 07/08/2020 - 09:18

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a series of health challenges that will need to be addressed. However, this phenomenon also involves a series of economic and social challenges to which the transport industry will have to respond in the future, on a global scale. These challenges, nonetheless, represent an opportunity to drive structural changes in the transport industry, particularly in the areas of logistics and mobility.

Authorities in Mexico have recognized that, in this emergency situation, certain industries, strategic businesses and transport companies, as well as the general population, must have access to commercial cargo and passenger vehicles that are in optimal condition.

Accordingly, it has determined that the first step to achieve an economic reactivation consists of achieving a gradual, cautious and orderly reopening of the national production plant and its supply chain, prioritizing the well-being of workers. The coordination between the three levels of government, the heavy-vehicle manufacturing industry and its chambers and associations, has been key to rebooting the national production plant, so it can satisfy the needs of its customers in Mexico and abroad. 

Freight and passenger transport have proven to be essential for the economy. To reduce the upcoming impact of the economic crisis and move toward a full reactivation, it will be essential to have competitive transport that allows goods to reach their final destination under the best conditions: reducing transfer times, avoiding failures and setbacks. Regarding passenger transport, it will be increasingly important that the routes are covered under conditions that promote passenger hygiene, safety and health. 

The economic challenges that lay ahead will demand new standards and practices. The heavy-truck producers and the transportation industry need to be part of the solution. Achieving an efficient and integrated mobility in urban centers and increasing the productivity in the transfer of goods will require public policies that encourage the structural renewal of the heavy-vehicle fleet. 

As the saying goes, every crisis is an opportunity. In the current state of affairs, the opportunity will come in the shape of technological advances that restructure the way we do things. It’s highly probable that global logistics and supply chains will have to comply with new sustainability, hygiene and health regulations. Proving providence and meeting health standards will be essential for companies that want to stay ahead. This opens up space for tracking devices in goods but also for engine technology that significantly reduces emissions. 

In the coming years, the industry will have to focus its efforts and capabilities on offering a better product while the world economy struggles. To make the most out of this situation our communities, cities and countries will need to renew the heavy-truck fleet. It is essential to consider new incentives and adequate financing supported by government programs. In Mexico, more than 80 percent of the motor carrier companies are owned by small and medium businesses.

Renewing the fleet implies giving certainty to the carrier, which is why we have proposed adjusting regulations and creating the right conditions for the renewal of the fleet, so that the carrier can invest in a new vehicle and we have safer roads and better air quality. Revitalizing the economy requires that small and medium-sized transport companies, the most vulnerable to currency depreciation, insecurity and the economic crisis unleashed by the pandemic, can acquire more efficient vehicles. Let’s remember that a new vehicle is not only safer and cleaner, but it consumes less fuel, which is the main cost of operation for the owner.

Under current economic conditions, helping small businesses will entail the collaboration of all the stakeholders in the industry, to promote policies that benefit and transform the way we move people and goods. Improving transportation services by integrating parameters that adjust to the “new normal,” reducing emissions and having safer roads will depend on our ability to integrate companies into the new normality. 

It is time to design strategies to strengthen motor carriers, professionalize small businesses and truck drivers, and give Mexican society the mobility and logistics that it deserves.

Photo by:   Miguel Elizalde

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