ATA unveils U.S. Freight Forecast to 2024

The American Trucking Associations says that truckload volumes will grow 3.2 percent through 2018 and 1.1 percent annually between 2019 and 2024. Less-than-truckload volume should grow 3.5 percent annually through 2018 and by 2.4 percent until 2024.

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In late May, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) released its “ATA American Trucking Trends,” which was comprised of myriad data points and information regarding the industry’s clout in terms of things like gross-related freight revenues, industry employment, and miles traveled, among others.

Now, in late June, the ATA has released the most recent edition of its “U.S. Freight Forecast to 2024,” which, you guessed it, also has tons of data-rich detail and information about the trucking industry.

Here are some of the main data points issued by the ATA in the U.S. Freight Forecast to 2014:
-overall freight revenue will grow by 63.6 percent to $1.3 trillion annually in 2024 and trucking will see its share of those revenue rise to 81 percent from 80.7 percent in 2012;
-truckload volumes will grow 3.2 percent through 2018 and 1.1 percent annually between 2019 and 2024. Less-than-truckload volume should grow 3.5 percent annually through 2018 and by 2.4 percent until 2024;
-anemic growth for rail carloads of just 1.5 percent through 2018 and 0.4 percent from 2019 through 2024 contributing to a decline in market share to 14.2 percent from 14.8 percent in 2011; and
-intermodal rail will continue to be the fastest growing freight mode, growing an average of 5.1 percent a year until 2018 then slowing moderately to 4.8 percent annually through 2024; and
-other modes of transportation, including air freight, waterborne transportation and pipelines will see moderate volume and revenue growth.

“The trucking industry continues to dominate the freight transportation industry in terms of both tonnage and revenue,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement. He added that the Forecast projects trucking’s share of tonnage will rise to 70.8 percent by 2024 from 68.5 percent in 2012.

As one can tell by these numbers, trucking will continue to have to largest piece of the freight pie for the foreseeable future, and there is not much that will change considerably in the interim.

Given the increasing projected market share gains of intermodal, it still pales when compared to truck share. But the intermodal movement, or story, has legs to say the least and is certainly not showing signs of slowing down either.

Like I mentioned in my late May blog about the ATA’s “ATA American Trucking Trends,” a solid and fluid trucking network is vital for our nation’s economic engine; that goes without saying. And while the trucking industry is currently in a relatively decent spot, there is always room for improvement while facing major challenges, too. These challenges include the pending HOS regulations change, which many industry stakeholders say could wreak havoc on supply chain management and logistics management, and other things like the truck driver shortage, and the increasingly beaten- up state of our nation’s infrastructure.

What’s more, trucking’s presence in the overall economy and the supply chain world cannot be swept aside. It can be a tough industry to be consistently profitable all while carriers of all sizes keep a watchful eye on service levels, and safety, for good reason.

Much of what happens in the trucking world is directly tied to our economic growth for better or worse. And even with the aforementioned challenges, the industry keeps trucking along and keeping its eye on the ball.


About the Author

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. Contact Jeff Berman

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Transportation of freight in containers was first recorded around 1780 to move coal along England’s Bridgewater Canal. However, "modern" intermodal rail service by a major U.S. railroad only dates back to 1936. Malcom McLean’s Sea-Land Service significantly advanced intermodalism, showing how freight could be loaded into a “container” and moved by two or more modes economically and conveniently. As with all new technologies, there were problems that slowed the growth, which influenced many potential customers to shy away from moving intermodal.
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