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Trucking growth remains in the cards, ATA says in new report

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
July 21, 2014

Amid the talk and coverage about things negatively impacting the trucking industry like increasing regulations, tight capacity, and equipment-related issues and challenges, there is one thing to always remember about the sector: it moves a lot of freight, make that more than a lot, actually.

That point was driven home in the most recent edition of ATA U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2025, which was issued by the American Trucking Associations today.

This publication, which is produced by the ATA and IHS Global Insight, stated that total freight tonnage will see growth of 23.5 percent from 2013 to 2025, with freight revenues heading up 72 percent during that same period.

The main data points issued by the ATA in the U.S. Freight Forecast to 2025 include:
-trucking’s share of freight tonnage will grow from 69.1% in 2013 to 71.4% in 2025;
-truckload volume will grow 3.5% a year through 2019, then 1.2% annually from 2020 to 2025 – however, truckload carriers will make greater use of intermodal rail for intermediate- and long-distance hauls;
-rail intermodal tonnage will grow 5.5% annually through 2019 and 5.1% a year through 2025; and
-railroad market share will, however, shrink from 14.5% of all tonnage in 2013 to 13.8% in 2025

“We continue to see growth for the entire freight economy – but we also see that trucking will maintain its position as the nation’s dominant mode of freight transportation,” ATA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement.

Even though the numbers can change in this report somewhat, the one underlying theme that seldom changes is that trucking continues to have the biggest piece of the freight in terms of tonnage, when compared to its modal brethren. That is something that is unlikely to change.

And even though I mentioned this before, it bears repeating: a solid and fluid trucking network is vital for our nation’s economic engine. 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 HOS, still tight capacity, the interminable truck driver shortage, and the increasingly beaten- up state of our nation’s infrastructure.

Here is another recurring theme to remember, too: 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.

It has long been noted that trucking activity can be viewed as an indicator for how the economy is doing. While that direct line is somewhat a tad more checkered these days, it still largely rings true and is worth watching as things slowly return to something at least resembling a more stable economic outlook.

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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