Now and then In an earlier era in my company's history, the test of effective fleet management was that the necessary vehicles were available when needed. When a vehicle broke down, it was repaired. When it aged beyond effective repair, it was junked and replaced by a new one. It was a simple strategy and it worked - so long as no one was concerned about lifecycle costs or efficiency. Today, managers are challenged to operate the fleet as a stand-alone business, achieving both the greatest efficiency and lowest cost possible. - Albert J, Budney, Jr., president of Niagara Mohawk Holdings, addressing the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference

"One of the greatest pieces of economic wisdom is to know what you do not know." -John Kenneth Galbraith, noted economist

Letter of the month Townsfolk say thanks? (See "Outside the Box," pg. 112, May issue). Not likely. We are THE hated industry. The majority of the population still thinks that the railroad can deliver all of their needs. They never stop to think how "things" get to and from the railhead. My husband and I are FORMER owner-operators. From 1978 to 1993 we ran team cross-country. We started a small fleet in 1992 and sold it in 1997. I ran solo local until November 1998. We now own and operate a medium and heavy truck repair facility, in business since 1992. Things are getting worse not better, which is why we don't have any trucks of our own now...We don't really expect people to thank us for doing our jobs, but we do expect to be treated as humans, not animals; we expect to be able to haul freight for a profit, not a loss, and get home to see our family when we want and need to. We should be paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 per week. (How many other people would work 60 or 70 hours per week for straight time pay?) ...Nationalize trucking? Might not be a bad idea. The government got us once with deregulation, they could have a second shot. -A. Lewis, Amllle@aol.com

To salute a job being well done, Consolidated Freightways has imprinted the name of one of its safest drivers on a company truck. The honoree, Phoenix-based Donald Marvin Whited, is among an elite group of 139 CF drivers who have driven more than three million accident-free miles and been duly honored in the same way. The newly dedicated truck will see service hauling intermediate and longhaul freight throughout the U.S.

Vroom, vroom Motient Corp., formerly American Mobile Satellite Corp., has announced its MobileMAX2 sponsorship of the Team Rensi #16 truck in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. "Motient's MobileMAX2 fleet-management systems are inside the cabs of trucks all over America," says president & CEO Walter V. Purnell, Jr. "It is equally satisfying and exciting to see our name on the outside of some of the fastest trucks in the world - those fielded by Team Rensi."