When parts of New York’s subway system sank beneath the waves, and lower Manhattan’s Wall Street district became awash, and when the most reliable solution for getting basic supplies like fuel and food to city dwellers was cargo bicycle, and when the city’s airports inundated up to the aircraft loading bridges, it became deeply apparent how important a great city is dependent on one thing for its survival—the transportation routes feeding it.
Most major airlines repositioned their planes away from the storm’s wrath well in advance and even after the storm Associated Press reported that airlines “are carrying extra fuel when they fly into the New York region in order to ensure they have enough to leave the area without filling up”. Moving all these planes was a good idea, although it meant 20,000 flights were canceled, because it saved the planes even as the airports themselves all but disappeared beneath the waves.
As Sandy bared down on the East Coast of North America, the traffic ban amplified the already crowded truck stops—particularly those from New Jersey to Massachusetts. And with Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts already considered by many truckers to be “the least friendly states to the trucking industry because they don’t provide enough truck stops and parking”, the crowding was amplified.
According to one lucky driver, on route from Florida with 23,000 pounds of refrigerated goods, who got through, “If I was here when they shut down the roads, I would have been screwed. Those winds would have knocked me all over the place.”
Hours before Hurricane Sandy arrived, many truck stops were already full and with the travel ban affecting commercial trucks, drivers started filling up parking spots normally reserved for cars and even the bays used for diesel fill ups. Storm conditions at various truck stops lit up the Twitter waves with storm-related tweets, such as Travel Center of America’s “TA Lamar, PA #068 does not have hot water due to weather issues“.
While Sandy hasn’t affected diesel prices adversely, The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced it would ensure efficient movement of fuel to the region devastated by Hurricane Sandy. According to the DOT, “The team will serve as a single point of contact for states, the trucking industry, and other agencies to assist in the removal of barriers to the quick delivery of fuel.”
The DOT has set up a hotline (800 832-5660), and is using an innovative strategy of providing waivers to a number of transportation regulations for the most impacted regions, including the following waivers:
- Driver Hours of Service
- IFTA Fuel Tax Waiver
- IRP (International Registration Plan) Vehicle Registration Waiver
- Low Sulfur Diesel Waivers
- Oversize and Overweight
- Toll Waivers