The infrastructure bill has passed.
Yes, friends, it’s been signed and delivered, and the country is now poised to spend $1.2 trillion on various infrastructure improvements.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this bill, but naturally we’re most interested in how it’s going to hit the diesel crowd. So far, we’re pretty happy with what we’ve found: not only are we looking at improved roads and expanded electric charging stations, but we’re also likely looking at lots of new vehicles that will need maintenance. That translates to lots of new technician jobs in the years to come (among others—the bill is projected to support 700,000 new jobs overall).
The bill itself is huge and contains way more subsections than we expect you to read through, so here’s a quick, high-level look at what’s in it for us.
HOW WILL THE INFRASTRUCTURE BILL IMPACT THE HEAVY-DUTY INDUSTRY?
$110 billion for bridges, roads, and highways
There’s no question about it: a lot of our roads are in shabby shape. For reference, according to the White House, a lot means 173,000 miles of roads and 45,000 bridges.
What will these improvements look like? Repairs, upgrades, and maintenance; everything from patching potholes to resurfacing and making structural repairs and upgrades, as necessary. This is technically a win for everyone, but trucks crisscross thousands of miles of highway each and every day, and the worse the road, the harder it is on the vehicle and the driver.
Better roads mean an easier haul for the truck, the driver, and the supply chain they contribute to. But getting those better roads will require a massive construction boom, quite possibly the likes of which we’ve never seen before. The country will need techs to service off-road, yellow iron equipment…hint hint, get that mobile branch started so you can get a crack at all that heavy equipment!
$7.5 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure, like charging stations
Most of us are excited to see what electric and alternative fuel vehicles can do—but this new machinery has run into several roadblocks, including a severe lack of charging/fueling stations. While there are diesel fuel stations all over the country, it’s far more difficult to find a spot to charge up your electric vehicle.
These funds will allow the country to build out charging stations, making electric and alternative fuel trucks a viable part of the supply chain. In addition, we can also expect $5 billion to go toward buying hybrid and electric school buses.
$39 billion in public transit
This money is intended to help expand access for people with disabilities, as well as let local authorities purchase low- and zero-emission buses.
An apprenticeship program to help under-21 drivers obtain their CDLs.
This is a big one. We’re coming up short on truck drivers, and at this point those under 21 can only drive interstate. This program will let qualified trainees go interstate, or throughout the country, hopefully easing the shortage. A portion of the bill is also allotted toward attracting more women to the industry.
This will not be a “train ‘em and let ‘em rip” bill, by the way; the program requires that trainees are accompanied by seasoned drivers, and their vehicles will be outfitted with specific transmissions, braking systems, cameras, and maximum speeds.
What does it all mean?
We’re pretty stoked about better roads and the CDL pilot program, but we’re also pleased to see how much money is being allocated to the purchase of new vehicles and the expansion of infrastructure for new kinds of vehicles.
All those new school buses, for example, will need technicians to work on them. And as the country builds out new charging stations and fueling options for electric and alternative-fuel vehicles, the reality of alternatively powered trucks becomes all the more real. If you run a repair shop, now’s the time to start figuring out how you’ll get your techs educated on all the new equipment that will be coming down the line.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the changes coming and will post occasional updates as they come.