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Today’s pickup: Fuel tax fades into sunset; Walmart stores as competitive weapon

Traffic jam in Yangon Myanmar at twilight (Photo: TechCrunch)

Good day,

Hiking motor fuel taxes is a proven and easy way for states to raise funds for infrastructure improvements. In fact, 31 state legislatures and the District of Columbia have raised fuel taxes since 2013. Yet the motor fuels tax is becoming a played-out source of funding as vehicles get more fuel-efficient and more are powered by alternative energy sources like electric, which bypass the gas pump and tax man. Writing in Forbes, Caitlin Devitt, a senior reporter for Debtwire Municipals, said states and cities should develop “financing tools that match up with changes in the environment and driver behavior.” A congestion-pricing scheme in New York City and a mileage-based user-fee pilot in the state of Oregeon are just two examples of unconventional approaches that will have to become mainstream as budgets tighten and road needs increase, Devitt writes.

Did you know:

Walmart has 4,769 U.S. stores, 3,570 of them supercenters. Those are important numbers to remember as Walmart prepares to use stores as fulfilment nodes in its battle with over supremacy of the one-day delivery market. (Source: Statista)


“So, undocumented Mexican workers are going to build a wall in order to keep out undocumented Mexican workers” – Michael Randle, founder, editor and publisher of Southern Business and Development, referring, tongue-in-cheek, to President Trump’s proposed border wall and the fact that about half of all construction workers in Texas are undocumented.

In other news:

Party City victimized by issues in helium supply chain

Party purveyor to close 45 stores this year amid shortages of helium (USA Today)

Uber IPO didn’t count on Trump and China

You can’t control timing, but the timing of the offering could have been better. (Business Insider)

Kargo is disrupting logistics in Myanmar

Try starting a logistics business in one of the world’s most challenging markets. Kargo did. (TechCrunch)

Logistics companies scramble for workers. No!

A shortage of available labor, hardly the stuff of new news, is keeping logistics firms on their toes. (Marketplace)

BlackBulk raises $150 million to digitize freight and logistics in India

The effort is important, given India’s size, potential, and lack of a world-class logistics tech infrastructure. (TechCrunch)

Final thoughts:

According to the Labor Department, there are 95 million Americans over the age of 16 who aren’t employed. This factoid implies a large pool of untapped labor ready to alleviate the shortages found in multiple industries, including truck driving and warehousing. However, Michael Randle – who is mentioned in the quotable category above – told the Transparency19 conference last week in Atlanta that the number is “B.S.” About 92.9 million of that 95 million universe have “no reason to work” for various reasons, most of them legitimate, Randle said. “We have people working who don’t even want to work,” he said. If one takes his comments at face value, then the available labor pool shrinks quite fast.

Hammer down everyone!

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.