Kansas gives truckers easier ride

Kansas' Motor Carrier Services Bureau is speeding truckers through the state by letting them purchase permits online at www.truckingks.org.

Previously, truckers had to call and register by phone to get permits faxed to them, a process which usually took a minimum of 24 hours, according to Tom Whitaker, executive director of the Kansas Motor Carriers Association (www.kmca.org/kmca/index.asp).

Whitaker said that despite the relatively quick turnaround, truckers often lost valuable time while waiting to receive the permit when they should be driving, especially if the cargo is time-sensitive. He also said that an increasing amount of truck stops have Internet access, and more truckers use laptops for business purposes.

"This site will be particularly useful for what we call the custom harvesters," Whitaker said. "These are the guys that come through from Texas up to Canada come harvest time and truck back loads of crops. They can use the Internet ahead of time to get their 72-hour permits to drive through the state, and if they need oversize permits they can get those as well."

The online permitting system was launched in conjunction with a new motor carrier portal that supplies information from several state agencies, including the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Kansas Turnpike Authority and the state Department of Transportation.

"Anything we can do to keep truckers on the road and not waiting at the border — that's our goal," said Sheila Walker, director of the motor vehicles division of the Kansas Department of Revenue. "We looked at this as an opportunity to provide all the info carriers may need when going through Kansas."

Walker said that the state has been running the program on a pilot basis since June. She said more than 200 online permits have been processed in that time.

Truckers or their companies open escrow accounts with the state to pay for the permits, which are purchased for a specific trip through the state and need to be renewed whenever a trucker comes back through.

The Information Network of Kansas, the public/private agency responsible for the state's official Web portal (www.accessKansas.org), also designed the trucking portal. The group did not charge the state but makes its money from charging transaction fees for purchasing the permits or opening escrow accounts.

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