By Stevie McKeeman
March 31st, 2021
The commercial motor vehicle industry is facing new requirements for the way they log their driver’s daily hours of service. An upcoming federal mandate will require all federally regulated trucking and busing companies to use an Electronic Logging Device in their vehicles. An Electronic Logging Device (ELD) communicates with the engine of the vehicle and automatically records a driver’s driving time and facilitates the recording of the driver’s record of duty status. This article contains everything a motor coach operator may need to know, based on the information available, regarding the upcoming mandate and how to purchase the best ELDs for your company.
HOW DOES THE UPCOMING ELD MANDATE AFFECT ME?
As of June 12th, 2021, drivers working for federally regulated carriers must record their daily hours of service using an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) instead of handwritten in a paper logbook. This mandate is intended to record more accurate hours of service for commercial drivers, thus reducing the risk of drowsiness and fatigue related incidents. A similar mandate was introduced in the United States in 2017, however their criteria differ slightly from Canada’s which means that a compliant ELD in the USA will not necessarily be compliant in Canada. This mandate does not change the Hours of Service requirements set out in the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations but rather the method of recording the information required under these regulations. The conditions that exempt a driver from recording a daily log under these regulations still applies when using an ELD. For example, the federal hours of service (HOS) regulations exempts school buses and other commercial vehicles from requiring an ELD when they are operating locally (under the 160-km radius exemption).
Currently, the only published ELD mandate relates to federally regulated carriers and each province is still deciding how they want to proceed with their provincially regulated carriers. Furthermore, most provinces have not yet announced how they intend to enforce the federal ELD mandate. Under the federal transportation rules, a federally regulated carrier would be a company that has at least one commercial vehicle that crosses provincial boundaries. At that point, the carrier’s entire fleet would fall under the federal HOS rules. This means that a federally regulated carrier with a bus operating solely within one province would require an ELD if it did not meet one of the exemptions listed below.
Under the federal HOS rules, the primary ELD exemptions that would apply to the bus industry are:
- A bus manufactured before model year 2000
- A bus operating within the 160 km radius daily log exemption (stays within a 160 km radius of where the bus starts/ends the day and returns to the same location)
- A bus rented for no more than 30 days
HOW DO I KNOW IF AN ELD IS COMPLIANT WITH THIS MANDATE?
Transport Canada brought in the Standard Council of Canada (SCC), Canada’s national accreditation body, to develop and implement the accreditation scheme for electronic logging device certification bodies. The process takes 7 to 9 months for a certification body to become accredited by SCC, after proving that they meet ISO 17065 testing standards, have adequate knowledge of the device requirements, and have sufficient methodology to test the electronic logging devices. For a motor coach operator to be compliant with this mandate, they must use a device that has been listed as certified by one of the approved certification bodies on the Transport Canada (TC) website.
FP Innovations is currently the only accredited certification body, but 2 more will be accredited soon.
To become certified, an ELD manufacturer must sign an agreement with one of TC’s accredited certification bodies and submit multiple units of their device for testing. So far, at least 15 ELD manufacturers have submitted applications to FP Innovations to be certified, however none have yet to complete the certification process which is said to take between 4-6 weeks from the day the physical devices are received.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing this article, there are still no Electronic Logging Devices certified for use in Canada and listed on Transport Canada’s website.
HOW CAN I COMPLY WITH THE MANDATE IF THERE ARE NO APPROVED DEVICES?
Transport Canada has recognized the difficulty that carriers face when trying to ensure that their ELDs are compliant with this new mandate and while the transportation ministry have not agreed to delay the mandate, they have announced that there will be a progressive enforcement strategy. This approach to enforcement will have multiple stages with varying levels of enforcement, beginning with education.
The best approach for a motor coach operator to take is to obtain assurances from your current or potential ELD provider that they are in the certification process for this mandate. While it is difficult for a provider to predict how long it will take to become certified and how many modifications will be needed to get there, it is important to gauge their commitment to the process when deciding where to spend your valuable dollars in the ELD market.
BESIDES COMPLYING WITH THE MANDATE, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO HAVING ELDS?
A valuable benefit of having electronic logs is that the information is sent to company headquarters in real time. Based on feedback from OMCA members that have been using ELDs for years, there are countless benefits to using ELDs for your entire fleet. Brian Denny of Denny Bus Lines raves about the convenience that comes with having ELDs on his entire charter fleet. On top of being a time saver through eliminating the need for data entry, Denny’s drivers also use the ELDs for vehicle inspection reports which prevent them from getting lost in transit and lets the shop knows ahead of time what repairs or maintenance might be required.
Caroline Ravazzolo with Great Canadian Coaches also appreciates the time-saving benefits of not having to review handwritten logs for accuracy and says, “We also use [the ELDs] for DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports) and going electronic reduced admin so greatly that we were able to eliminate one whole position from the company,” noting the cost saving benefits of the electronic logs as well.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN AN ELD?
Shawn Geary of McCoy Bus Lines has had ELDs on his entire charter fleet since 2012 and had to change suppliers in 2018 to be compliant with the U.S. ELD regulations. If your company has vehicles that travel into the U.S., you will want to ensure that your equipment will be compliant on both sides of the border. Geary notes that many ELD providers gear their technology to the trucking industry and encourages motor coach operators to find a provider that understands the unique needs of passenger carrier motor vehicles.
Saucon Technologies’ Mike Deeb tells OMCA that his company found a niche in the bus market right after 9/11 and states that 99.5% of their current business is with motor coaches in North America. When asked what the different ELD requirements are for passenger vehicles and freight vehicles, Deeb says that the technical differences are not as prevalent in Canada as they are in the U.S. because the U.S. have two completely different sets of rules.
Dan DePalma of Streamline Transportation Technologies, a 100-year-old trucking company that purpose built a solution in the early 2000’s and found such success that they began selling their logging devices to other companies, also acknowledges the unique requirements of the ELDs in the busing industry. DePalma describes how drivers must be able to log different activities when the vehicle is stopped, whether it is for a break, an inspection or otherwise, to accurately keep track on on-duty and off-duty times. Then, when the vehicle is in motion, the ELD will automatically track the driving time.
Coach Operators and ELD providers alike are cognizant that implementing ELDs into any fleet is a major monetary investment, from the tangible devices to the monthly service fees, and urge every operator to take their time deciding on the perfect ELD provider for them. Consider what your operations typically look like – not just what they look like during the pandemic. Will you be making trips to the United States? What else will you want to use the logging devices for? How much money will each device save you in time and manpower? What kind of training does the supplier offer for your admin staff and drivers?
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I BE AWARE OF WHEN PURCHASING ELDS?
In Dan DePalma’s experience, drivers tend to train each other as they get used to the new devices and advises that “you want a tool that very easy-to-use for the drivers. If the drivers can use it, then the rest is solvable. If the drivers struggle with it or do not like it, it’s a challenge.” He also notes that you will want a tool that is more than just a log, as it is a good opportunity to get technology in your business. “While you’re spending money, it doesn’t have to be a cost.” DePalma explains “It can help the business: Can we drive savings in your fleet with respect to how you control variable costs, how you manage fuel, how you manage trip times, how you bid for jobs with your customers because you have more accurate information on the cost and the times needed?”
Shawn Geary warns “It’s a significant expense. You want to go with a company that has a proven track record. If they are not on the list in Canada, they should at least be on the list in the US as being approved.” Brian Denny’s advice is to implement the ELDs on all your vehicles because trying to manage the electronic logs and paper logs is quite frustrating. Plus, knowing where all your vehicles are has great benefits, such as easily identifying to nearest bus to help transport passengers from a stalled vehicle.
With the looming deadline to comply with the Canadian ELD mandate, be sure that your ELD provider will have the inventory to service your fleet in a timely manner. When ELD’s became mandatory in the United States, there were some unfortunate operators that were not compliant by the deadline because their ELD provider could not keep up with the demand. Mike Deeb advises operators to look at the longevity of the ELD provider as well. When the U.S. regulations took effect, Deeb noticed a lot of bandwagon jumpers were trying to make quick cash off of the mandatory purchases but were ill-experienced and failed to deliver quality products and services.
WHERE TO START
- Assess the needs for your fleet and what benefits you would like to see from your electronic devices.
- Do your research into the companies that offer this equipment and understand how their devices will help you meet the mandatory requirements.
- Ask your industry colleagues about their experience with ELDs. Talk to operators that have already implemented ELDs and pick their brains.
- Get assurances that the device you are looking to purchase will, as soon as possible, be certified under Transport Canada’s requirements.
- Be mindful of the impact on your business. While most recommend putting ELDs on your entire fleet for optimal benefits, given the lack of operations during the pandemic, consider purchasing only what is necessary for your current operations and adding more as your business increases post-pandemic.
Hopefully, this article has provided valuable information for motor coach operators in the market for electronic logging devices and served as an informative update on the upcoming mandate. Motor Coach Canada will continue to monitor for details on the progressive enforcement schedule and will update members when that information becomes available. If members have any further inquiries, please contact the association.
MCC’s Chairman, Marc Laplante, is pleased to announce that we have officially chosen a new leader for our association: Vince Accardi. Vince is coming from the Tourism Industry of Canada (TIAC) where he served as the Acting CEO since November, the Vice President since 2019 and the Director of Policy and Stakeholder relations prior to that. With Vince’s government relations experience coupled with more than 20 years in the tourism industry, we are confident that he will be a strong player in supporting and growing the motor coach travel and tourism sector. Vince’s official start date is April 19th, 2021 and he is excited to introduce himself to the association and all of its wonderful members!
The Canadian Transportation Agency is preparing to introduce accessible transportation regulations for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada. These regulations are currently intended to apply to charter operators that cross provincial and international borders. Motor Coach Canada has previously made submissions to the Canadian Transportation Agency and will continue to do so, however, your feedback is critical to ensuring that the impact on your business is mitigated.
THE CTA IS SEEKING FEEDBACK FROM YOU BEFORE MARCH 31, 2021.
The discussion paper can be found here: https://otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/discussion-paper-accessible-transportation-guidelines-medium-and-small-transportation-service
The ATPDR (Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations) can be found here: https://otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/consultation/accessible-transportation-consultation
The questions that the CTA is asking members of the industry are below. Please provide responses to firstname.lastname@example.org and please send a CC to email@example.com so that MCC can echo your concerns in the association submission.
QUESTIONS FOR TRANSPORTATION SERVICE PROVIDERS
- For medium TSPs – which are currently expected to be in compliance with the ATPDR – please explain what specific provisions, if any, may be difficult to continue implementing if and when your customer volumes drop below those that trigger coverage by the ATPDR. Please provide clear substantiation for your position, taking into account the requirement under Part V of the Act to remove barriers to travel by persons with disabilities and to accommodate their disability-related needs up to the point of undue hardship.
- For small TSPs, please explain what technical and operational challenges might make it difficult to implement provisions of the ATPDR. What specific areas or provisions of the ATPDR are a challenge? What alternatives can be offered to be able to reach the same outcome in terms of the level of accessibility?
QUESTIONS FOR ALL INTERESTED STAKEHOLDERS
- What practices are working well to deliver accessibility with Canada’s small Transportation Service Providers? Are there any practices that might be considered as a model for other Transportation Service Providers?
- What further suggestions do you have for the accessible transportation guidelines applicable to medium and small Transportation Service Providers?
Join us January 28th for a discussion about Applicability of HST and the definition of “Continuous Journey”.
Over recent months several questions and concerns have been raised about the accurate application of HST and the definition of “continuous journey”. The CRA’s definition of continuous journey may not accurately reflect industry practices. Motor Coach Canada will host Ron Choudhury, Partner with Miller Thomson LLP to look at real life scenarios where the applicability of HST should apply based on CRA current “continuous journey” definitions. Ron Choudhury will provide clarity to members and members will be given an opportunity to provide feedback to MCC to understand if members are applying HST correctly or if members are at risk.
Protect yourself from costly CRA audits by knowing what the regulations tell us.
Ask your questions and get some answers from an expert in sales tax and GST/HST issues associated with transportation law.
In June, some elements of the ATPDR (Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations) were slated to come into force and MCC was successful in obtaining an exemption on three requirements contained the in ATPDR. The exemption is specifically related to:
- website updates
- on board entertainment
- staff training and related reporting requirements
The exemption expires in January of 2021, as such Motor Coach Canada has written to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) seeking an ongoing extension to the exemption. Read the letter below:
MCC has written a follow up letter to the federal Minister of Finance, Minister Freeland, seeking grant funding for coach operators of $39,500 per coach. This letter, available below, was sent on December 9th, 2020.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, presented the Fall Economic Statement giving Canadians an idea of what this pandemic has cost our country so far and what additional support Canadians can expect as we continue to push through this crisis.
Here are some support highlights from the economic statement that may help MCC member companies:
NEW Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP)
The government will work with financial institutions in the near term to create the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) – a new program for the hardest hit businesses, including those in sectors, like tourism and hospitality, hotels, arts and entertainment. This stream will offer 100 percent government-guaranteed financing for heavily impacted businesses, and provide low-interest loans of up to $1 million over extended terms, up to ten years. Rates will be lower than those offered in BCAP and beneath typical market rates for hard hit sectors. No further details about HASCAP are available at this time.
Members have repeatedly indicated that borrowing more money from the government is not ideal and instead are seeking grants. At this time we have no indication that grant funds will be awarded.
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) Expansion:
The government announced the $962-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund on April 17, providing significant funding through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies. The government increased funding on October 2, bringing total support to more than $1.5 billion.
- To better ensure the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund can continue to support small businesses unable to access other federal pandemic support programs, including replicating newly announced Canada Emergency Business Account loan limit increases, the government is proposing a top-up of up to $500 million, on a cash basis, to Regional Development Agencies and the Community Futures Network of Canada, bringing total funding to over $2.0 billion in this fund.
- The government is also proposing to provide up to $3 million to the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency for foundational economic development projects that will support small businesses in Canada’s Territories.
- To better tailor support to businesses in Western Canada, in recognition of its diverse regional economies, the government proposes to introduce a new approach to regional development in the West by creating separate regional development agencies for British Columbia and the Prairies, adding a new, seventh Regional Development Agency in British Columbia. Additional details and investments will follow.
- Support for Tourism and Hospitality
Recognizing the importance of the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund in supporting local tourism businesses, the government will earmark a minimum of 25 per cent of all the Fund’s resources to support local tourism businesses, providing more than $500 million in program support through June 2021.
Several members have received funding under this program and MCC encourages members to consider exploring funds under the RRRF.
Note: The government is exploring options to enhance the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) program to respond to the specific liquidity needs of a greater number of large Canadian businesses.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) Extension:
The recently launched Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy provides direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support from September 27 2020 until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The current rate provides a subsidy, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent until December 19, 2020.
- In order to support business through the second wave and the winter season, the government is proposing to extend the current subsidy rates of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for an additional three periods, keeping the base subsidy rate of up to 65 per cent available until March 13, 2021.
Motor Coach Canada is seeking an exemption to the 25% top up requirement based on lockdown measures. The motor coach and tour sector is not operating regardless of where the business is located and therefore the lockdown qualifier should not apply.
Lockdown Support Program Extension:
Organizations that must shut their doors or significantly restrict their activities under a public health order due to a lockdown are eligible for an additional 25 per cent top-up, in addition to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy base subsidy of up to 65 per cent until December 19, 2020. This means hard-hit businesses can receive up to 90 per cent support for rent.
- The government is proposing to extend the rate of 25 per cent for the Lockdown Support for an additional three periods, until March 13, 2021.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Expansion and Extension:
As previously announced in the Speech from the Throne, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy has been extended until June 2021. The government has also recently announced that the subsidy rates are to remain at their current level so that the maximum subsidy rate of 65 per cent of eligible wages would remain until December 19, 2020 and has made the wage subsidy more flexible by allowing employers to access the maximum subsidy rate based on a single month’s revenue decline instead of having to demonstrate three months’ decline.
- Given the ferocity of the second wave and its expected economic impact, the government is proposing to increase the maximum subsidy rate to 75 per cent for the period beginning December 20, 2020 and to extend this rate until March 13, 2021, to provide greater certainty to employers.
Motor Coach Canada has recently lobbied for the extension of a minimum of 65% top up for the motor coach and tour sector with respect to the CEWS. This is welcome news.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) Expansion and Extension:
Initially providing loans of up to $40,000, with up to $10,000 forgivable, the CEBA program will soon be expanded, allowing qualifying businesses to access an additional interest-free $20,000 loan, in situations where there is need. Half of this additional amount, up to $10,000, would be forgivable if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022. The CEBA program has been extended to small businesses that have not been operating from a commercial banking account, who are now able to apply for the CEBA, provided that they have successfully opened a new commercial account and fully meet the eligibility requirements of the program. Loans are provided through financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, in cooperation with Export Development Canada. The deadline to apply for a CEBA loan has been extended to March 31, 2021.
Support for Workers in the Live Events and Arts Sectors:
To support the planning and presentation of COVID-19-safe events and the arts — including both live and digital — and to provide work opportunities in these sectors, the government will provide $181.5 million in 2021-22 to the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts to expand their funding programs. This includes a one-year renewal of funding provided in Budget 2019 for the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program, the Canada Arts Presentation Fund and the Canada Music Fund.
Support for Festivals and Events:
The government understands that certain major live events and festivals will require unique support. The government will work with industry to prevent the closure of unique and irreplaceable flagship events and festivals across Canada, and to ensure the survival of key, globally-recognized assets in this sector.
To read the full Fall Economic Statement, see the link below:
The Government of Canada is conducting consultations for Let’s Talk Transportation initiative, which identifies new measures that will be introduced into regulation aimed at safety technologies.
- New regulations requiring infraction cameras, extended stop signal arms and exterior 360° cameras on all new school buses
- Regulations requiring automatic emergency braking systems and pedestrian automatic emergency braking systems on all vehicles including coaches and school buses
- Advanced driver assistance technologies such as;
- Advanced braking systems for motorcycles
- Emergency brake assist
- Electronic stability control for medium vehicles
- Emergency stop signal
- Regenerative braking signal
- Accident emergency call system
- Blind spot information system (heavy vehicles)
- Blind spot detection/warning
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Level 2 and Level 3 systems
- 360° cameras
- Camera monitoring systems
- Intelligent speed assist
- Rear-visibility system (medium and heavy vehicles)
- Driver drowsiness and distraction monitoring
Below are links to the consultations and the background documents. Members that submit comments are asked to also share their comments with MCC by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org which will allow us to consider all concerns and issues when preparing a submission.
Please note that the following public consultations were published on Tuesday September 1st, 2020, on Transport Canada’s Let’s Talk Transportation platform:
Improving School Bus Safety in Canada
Should automatic emergency braking systems be required for new vehicles?
Creating a standard for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
These are informal consultations as part of the pre-regulatory process. Please read the background documents available through the web links above, and provide your feedback to the questions included in each consultation and background document. These consultations will be open for comments until September 30th, 2020.
Following the July 30th webinar with lawyer Andrew Buck of Pitblado LLP on the liabilities of bus and tour operators when passengers contract COVID-19, MCC responded to the feedback from members asking for assistance in creating a COVID waiver for future services.
MCC has now secured a waiver for all members to use in an effort to limit liability when passengers may attempt to claim that a tour or motor coach travel contributed to a confirmed case of COVID19. The legalese of matters such as waivers are complex, we therefore encourage all members to consult their own legal counsel for any nuances that may be required for specific business needs.