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ATA report points to bright future for trucking (and some other modes, too)

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
May 20, 2011

Earlier today, my inbox pointed me to an e-mail from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which highlighted the fact that the United States freight economy—especially trucking—is poised for liftoff following the depths of the Great Recession.

This information is gleaned from the ATA’s U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2022, which was put together by the ATA, IHS Global Insight, and Martin Labbe Associates.

While I have not seen the full report yet, the data in the press release is very telling, as well as encouraging. Here it is:
-trucking comprised 81 percent of revenue and 67 percent of all tonnage in 2010;
-total freight tonnage is expected to grow by 24 percent in 2022 and revenue for the entire freight transportation sector is expected to rise by 66 percent during the same timeframe
-trucking’s total share of the freight transportation market will bump up to 70 percent by 2022, although the industry’s share of freight revenue will rise to 81.4 percent from 81.2 percent.

Looking at other modes, the report noted that:
-rail’s overall share of tonnage will fall to 14.6 percent in 2022 from 15.3% in the baseline year of 2010, but intermodal tonnage will rise 6.6 percent a year between 2011 and 2016, and 5.5 percent annually through 2022, while revenues for intermodal transportation will jump from $11.1 billion in 2010 to $30.7 billion in 2022; and
-domestic waterborne transportation will show very modest growth between now and 2022 – growing 2 percent a year until 2016, then 0.2 percent annually through 2022. And revenues for short-sea shippers will grow to $16.2 billion in 2022 from $11.1 billion in 2010.

Given the number of assets in trucking compared to other modes, these numbers are not surprising. What is surprising, I think, is the level of optimism for future freight growth.

Ok-not a total surprise, but at a time when many in the carrier and shipper communities and in the press (yes, that is me), have pointed to better days ahead (hopefully), things are obviously far from certain or definitive.

Last I checked, fuel is still high and lots of people are still looking for work. And the costs of doing business, especially in trucking, are ostensibly getting higher (hello CSA and HOS). But in any event, there are good signs, too, like improving exports and retail sales numbers, in tandem with a solid manufacturing sector.

But people much smarter than me are on record as saying volumes will grow between now and 2022, indicating that things will continue to gradually get better. The positivity train is rolling when it comes to freight’s growth prospects. Let’s get on board.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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