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Hi. Does anyone know how CA medicine woman is doing at TA? My guy has 15+ years of experience (10 years with the last company) and is strongly considering TA.
We relocated due to family issues and his new/current gig doesn't even come close to paying what the recruiter quoted ($1200/week take home). We're barely hanging on and he's pretty discouraged! How do you know if what they say during recruiting is really true?
I'd love to hear any current info on Transport America so he doesn't make the same mistake twice.
I have spoken to several drivers who work for Southern Cal Transport in recent months. THEY ARE NOT HAPPY!!!! Since Transport America bought SCT, all is not well. TA is cutting expenses everywhere they can and screwing drivers to do it.
One of the things several companies are doing is going public (listing on NASDAQ). They may be setting themselves up for this, if they haven't already done so.
Despite the excellent fleet managers and good freight, I cannot recommend this company to anyone, unless you are absolutely desperate for a job and in peak physical condition. Driver comfort and safety, outside of the things your fleet manager has some sort of control over, takes a distant second to profits and safety. If you become injured because of this thinking, you are seriously on your own, and they will fight very hard to make sure of that.
Orientation is straight-forward and mostly computer-based. Even if you have a new medical certification, you will be required to obtain yet another (at their cost). You will also be required to pass a physical abilities test as well. If you are not in good physical condition, you will fail it. They will discuss any "dings" on your CSA and DAC/USIS/HireRight reports, as will your new fleet manager (via teleconference with the terminal manager present). Orientation is mainly in Ft Wayne, IN. If you live relatively nearby (as I did), they'll obtain a one-way rental car with National, and you may be asked to pick up others along the way (I wasn't). Otherwise, you take Greyhound, or as I call it, the tuberculosis express. You stay in a very nice hotel, and transportation is provided via a "loaner van" the company owns and keeps at the hotel (can be used to get groceries and such outside orientation hours). Breakfast is on the hotel, sack lunch is provided by TA, supper is on you. Don't eat breakfast on the first morning of orientation, or your sugar levels will skyrocket no matter what (bag something to take to eat after the physical, you'll need the energy).
They will obtain a rental car or van to get to the location of your assigned rig. One person will be responsible for the vehicle and fueling it, and will be paid nicely for that, though the driving is shared between all in the vehicle to avoid fatigue issues.
Plan on getting the oldest piece of junk rig they have available, usually something way overdue for trade-in or resale. Mine had to be charged for several hours due to bad batteries just to get it started, before I could put my belongings into it. I ended up idling that night, something the company does not like at all.
I averaged about 2,100 miles per week (home time is factored into that), which resulted in net pay being about $450-$500 weekly, depending on the deductions being taken out. This is about normal for the time of the year and current economic conditions. Benefits for new hires stink and are very expensive, and most do not kick in for at least 90 days. After 90 days, you health coverage is changed to Anthem (BCBS), which is cheaper, but anyone who has ever dealt with them will confirm they are notorious for denying any and all claims.
The company is dry-van, with a small percentage of propane powered heater trailers. Pay attention during orientation on the subject of those, even if you have experience with them. They are twitchy at best, and most customers won't load them. Keep a personal record of which customers have problems with which trailers.
For rigs with the MCP-200 series version of the Qualcomm, logs are electronic. The few not equipped with this (there might still be some, I had one) require that you do paper logs, though they will accept the ones generated from the Driver's Daily Log software (DDL) available over the internet for download (about $95). I recommend DDL be used as a backup anyway, since TA does not maintain a record of your days-out (that I'm aware of, and I asked). Some MCP-200 equipped rigs will also be capable of trip scanning within the rig, but you will need to obtain your own USB powered portable scanner to take advantage of that. Trip scanning is used in all terminals, and is available at all fuel stops.
Idling rules are very strict, and a bit confusing at first. You must also fuel only where assigned to each trip, and only the quantity told over the QC. You are also required to follow the route given. You must get permission to idle, fuel at a different location, or go out of route. Failure to comply can result in termination. The rigs are NOT equipped with an APU or other auxiliary power source, but do have the Espar heater under the bunk. Expect to have to start your rig and idle at least once to recharge batteries in the older rigs if you use it to stay warm. You will need to get this authorized the following day with your fleet manager, so make sure to record how much time was spent idling. Dress warm and carry extra blankets, I awoke several times to near zero temperatures due to near dead batteries or the Espar being unable to keep the cab even minimally warm (they are notorious for fuel line clogs).
Expect that your first assigned rig is either filthy or the floor is covered in Armor-All (mine was both). You will be required to keep your rig in near showroom condition, regardless of the condition you got it in originally. You can be terminated for not doing so, as well as for having too much "stuff" in your rig. You must remove anything from the rig that does not fit into the cabinets or under the bunk (the latter really no longer has storage space) from the rig during home time or if your rig needs repairs or routine maintenance.
The fleet managers I worked with were top-notch, all of them with years of experience, one with a couple of million safe miles under his belt from his own driving days. Understand that they have limits to what they can do. They will refuse to talk to you via cell phone if they hear your engine on or believe you are driving (and they'll know), that is a strict policy (one I agree with). The only exceptions made are if they need you to stop ASAP, or if they know for certain you are idling during a break because of severe weather conditions (like the blizzard that I got blind-sided by at the Georgia - South Carolina line, that wasn't expected by anyone). The terminal and safety managers in Janesville, WI are also top notch, and if they don't have the answers, they'll get them. Treat them honestly and with respect, they earned it. In fact, all the terminal personnel I encountered at the three terminals I dealt with were very friendly and professional, which was something I was not accustomed to from other carriers.
Having said that, the maintenance personnel leave much to be desired. Their job is to do only what is minimally required to get you rolling again, even if that means you will reasonably be expected to breakdown later. It took months to replace the bad batteries in my rig, and even my fleet manager was frustrated by that (because it resulted in a very high idle rate, which resulted in daily required reports to explain it). Shop personnel also are downright rude in most cases, something you'll just have to gut out if you want your rig or trailer fixed in a timely manner.
After-hours road service is staffed with a certain gentleman who believes his job is to cut corners in any way he can to avoid spending a penny, especially on any rig he considers a "trade truck." Apparently, whoever authorizes a repair on the road gets into some sort of trouble, judging by this particular individual's attitude. He also treats drivers with the same level of contempt the mechanics do. The latest incident with him, to which I attribute my resulting injuries that forced me to stop working, involved the brakes on my rig. The rusted out OEM brake canister developed an intermittent air leak that regularly dumped all the air. But, because a mechanic I was sent to could not actually hear the leak while the vehicle was bobtailed, stationary on level ground, and turned off, he refused to authorize a $900 repair that would have taken an hour. The mechanic had repeatedly warned the individual that failure to replace the canister would result in a total failure of the brake system, but since he never heard the leak, that person would not authorize the repair. The next day the canister finally came apart, on the New Jersey Turnpike. It took hours to cage the brakes and get towed off the turnpike, and at that they would only allow me to be towed to underneath the turnpike for repairs. Two angry customers, many hours, and a few thousand dollars later, I was finally rolling again.
A couple of weeks later I ended up on Workman's Compensation due to the injuries. That means I lost my job, all benefits, and my income stopped (to this day). TA instructed their insurance carrier to fight me no matter how much the cost. Early intervention likely would have prevented the now permanent disability, and ongoing work restrictions due to the lack of medical care that is also ongoing. The latter prevents me from returning to driving, despite the fact that I can pass a USDOT physical and do the job. If I had to guess, I would estimate TA has spent 5 times as much fighting the WC claim than it would have cost them to just fix me and get me back to work, factoring in thus far unapproved medical treatments, job retraining, etc. Instead of being able to return to work in a few weeks, it has now been several months.
Now I know what they meant by their slogan that they would be the last carrier I ever worked for, given they are working very hard to make sure I can't return to any kind of work, let alone for them or another motor carrier (in any capacity). They can blame their insurance carrier all they want.
Looking back, I never should have left Marten. At least I never got hurt by anything they did. Even when I did something stupid that resulted in a minor injury to myself, they were all over it making sure I was properly taken care of and able to continue working. When I got injured (minor) because of something a customer did, they raised hell. At TA, you only have minimal worth so long as you make them a profit. Get hurt on the job, and you are hung out to dry.
Sorry for the long post, but drivers need to know what they will be dealing with at this carrier.
On the pay side, it's average (I got $0.36/mi after obtaining my HazMat, but never hauled HazMat for them for the extra $0.04/mi). I got about what I expected per week, average 2100 mi, which was normal for that time of the year and given the current economy. My net was never higher than $500/wk due to very expensive benefits. They have their very good side, but their very bad side is far worse. Read my experience with them for the details.
I do not recommend this carrier for anyone but the truly desperate. They made me regret my choice to leave Marten in a very painful way, on a number of levels.
I went in with over the maximum 5 years experience, which is all they count. Without HazMat, I started at $0.34/mi. After I obtained my HazMat, $0.36/mi for regular freight, $0.40/mi for HazMat.
I do not know what the lease drivers and O/O's got, I just know none of those I talked to were happy. I think it's on par with what Schneider lease and O/O's get on the mileage rate (as opposed to percentage), which isn't much.
No carrier has a good lease program right now, even with your own rig. Too many wannabes out there (I was one of them) willing to work for less than what welfare pays to claim the title of O/O. If you have your own rig, you would be better off getting your own authority rather than running under someone else's right now. It's a lot more involved and a lot more work for you, but you'll have a better chance at success if you're smart and careful.
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