TransCore data cites increased truckload freight availability in February
February 14, 2011 - LM Editorial
In 2010, easy annual comparisons to a troubled 2009 often paved the way for favorable data trends in the freight transportation sector. Based on recent data in TransCore’s TrendLines report, those comparisons for the trucking sector are still heading in the right direction early into 2011.
For the week ending February 5, TransCore reported that truckload freight availability increased nationwide for the fourth straight week, according to traffic on its TransCore DAT Network of load boards, and it was also the highest load volume for a single week since last October.
The company reported that there was an 8.7 percent increase in truck load posts, coupled with an 11.6 percent decline in truck capacity, with the weekly-load-to-truck ration increasing from five to six loads nationally for a 23 percent improvement. TransCore also pointed out that freight load availability for dry vans was up 13 percent in conjunction withy a 14 percent decline in truck capacity on the spot market, with a 31 percent increase in the load-to-truck ratio for dry van.
This data comes at a time when the trucking sector is seeing mixed results for sequential and annual gains for volumes and pricing. As an example, the trucking shipments in the Cass Information Systems Freight Index were down in both December and January. And the ATA’s advance seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage index was up 2.2 percent in December, following November’s revised 0.6 percent decline (up from -0.1 percent) and a cumulative 2.8 increase over September and October.
“In the first half of 2010, we saw capacity get real tight as there was a general inventory re-stocking take place, and in the second half of the year that restocking subsided and we settled in on a general economic rate, which is where we are now,” said Doug Waggoner, CEO of Echo Global Logistics, a non-asset based freight brokerage company and a provider of technology-enabled transportation and supply chain management services.
This growth rate, said Waggoner, is modest and not taxing transportation capacity. And at the same time, he pointed out it is making all the asset-based transportation carriers more healthy again through things like modest rate hikes in the less-than-truckload (LTL) sector. While on the truckload side, he noted there appears to be modest excess capacity, with carriers practicing discipline by not adding capacity to fleets, as well as underlying themes like overall economic uncertainty, increases in fuel prices, and the outcome of various government regulations like CSA 2010.
Jon Langenfeld, an analyst at Robert W. Baird wrote in a recent research note that spot truck freight demand has strengthened in recent weeks, with truck supply and demand also tightening, while citing how factors like seasonality, weather, and an early Chinese New Year are also occurring. While these factors are all at play, he also observed how absolute demand level is above prior peak February levels.
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