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Transportation News Bulletins - LTL and TL

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Study Finds Anti-Idling Equipment Can Cut Idle Time Up to 78%
Monday, 31 August 2009 00:00

A new study by the American Transportation Research Institute found that anti-idling equipment can trim idling time by as much as 78%.

The study, which was sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, found that by using technologies ranging from auxiliary power units to battery-powered air conditioning units, idling was cut by 42% to 78%.

Trucks involved in the study idled their engines 5% to 22% of the time. Mike Tunnell, spokesman for the research group, said that before installing the technology, the involved fleets had idled their trucks 23% to 41% of the time.

The reductions in idling cut carbon emissions from the trucks involved by an estimated 1,265 tons and eliminated 27 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions and 1,200 pounds of particulate matter.

But the study also found that payback periods for the various technologies ranged from 16 months to 45 months, which was longer than the fleets involved in the study had anticipated.

Transport Topics, 8/31/2009

Carrier closures slow in 2Q
Friday, 28 August 2009 00:00

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The U.S. economy may still be in the dumps, but it hasn't translated to more trucking carriers going under.

The number of U.S. trucking companies that filed for bankruptcy fell to 370 during the second quarter, a 61.9 percent drop from the second quarter of 2008 when it was 970, according to Avondale Partners' Trucking Failure Report.

The Nashville-based equity investment firm says this is the lowest number of failures it has reported since the first quarter of 2007.

In fact, the rate of companies going into bankruptcy is less than 40 percent of what it was in the second quarter of last year.

That's a good sign for struggling carriers trying to survive this recession, but not for those who insist a lot more capacity needs to tighten before trucking can truly recover.

Because of that, managing Avondale director Donald Broughton does not anticipate an improvement in rates. "Bottom line, this is not a rate sufficient to offset the dramatic drop in demand that started in the fall of 2008, nor is it enough to offer any hope that the weakness in pricing will soon be over," he said.

According to the data, bankruptcies were mostly being filed by smaller companies—many truckload carriers—with longer lengths of haul.

Avondale attributes the decline in failures largely to creditors, who have helped companies stay float because of bottom-barrel used truck values, as well as reasonably low fuel prices since last winter., 8/28/2009

Capacity Situation Still Looms Large for Shippers and Carriers
Friday, 28 August 2009 00:00

WALTHAM, Mass.—Despite some recent sequential increases in trucking volumes, capacity has steadily continued to leave the marketplace in recent quarters.

The reasons for the capacity exodus vary, but they generally come back to common refrains, including: low demand and consumer spending in conjunction with tight credit markets. A major topic in the trucking industry going back well more than a year on the capacity front is that when the economy comes back, there will not be nearly enough capacity to meet future requirements.

This sentiment has been followed with the mindset that when the economy fully recovers, the capacity picture will not be pretty, because when demand returns carriers will be scrambling to add capacity. FTR Associates President Eric Starks said this is because carriers are not going to “add capacity ahead of time, because that requires cash on hand and freight to move.”

While these signals appear somewhat ominous, there are some signs things are improving on the capacity front, according to a recent report by Avondale Partners analyst Donald Broughton.

In his report, Broughton notes that in the second quarter Avondale estimates 370 companies with an average fleet size of 18 trucks—representing roughly 6,725 trucks or less than 0.4 percent of the nation’s over the road heavy duty truck capacity—were pulled from the road. What’s more, Broughton explained this is the lowest number of companies being recorded and the smallest average size recorded since the first quarter of 2007.

“The rate of companies failing is less than 40% of what it was in the second quarter last year and with the drop in the average size of fleet (from 47 to 18); the total number of trucks being pulled from the road is less than 15% of last year's second quarter rate,” wrote Broughton. “This estimate does not include the industry wide trend, especially in larger fleets, to rationalize the size of their ongoing fleets. However it does represent a marked decline from the 46,025 trucks pulled from the nation's highways in the second quarter of 2008.”

Even with these encouraging signs, larger problems loom when it comes to truck tonnage volume—and capacity—returning to healthy levels that reflect a healthy and productive economy. As things stand, tonnage is still well below last year’s levels, with the American Trucking Associations reporting this week that its advance seasonally-adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage index in July is down 10.4 percent yearover- year, although it has been up on a sequential basis two of the last three months.

As for how things look going forward in terms of the overall health of the trucking industry, rates, and capacity, it is clear more time is needed before order is restored.

According to Lana Batts, a partner at Transport Capital Partners the trucking industry still has too much capacity and rates would be higher than they presently are had more capacity already been removed. She said that when tonnage is down along with the supply and demand drop in rates, many carriers are forced to go out of business.

And Batts said even though—as Broughton’s report indicates—many carriers have left the business, it is not as many as it could have been, due to carriers’ lenders being lenient for non-payment of trucks and the price of used equipment dropping so dramatically to the point that lenders are willing to have truckers make every other payment, as long as they don’t get too far behind.

Even with lax credit practices occurring, Batts estimates that the trucking industry lost about seven percent of capacity through normal bankruptcies, and another seven percent from trucks being parked. But the market could withstand another seven percent removed, but the price of used trucks has dropped dramatically, leading to continued excess capacity.

With excess capacity giving shippers the upper-hand in terms of pricing power, a trucking executive told LM, that big shippers are clearly in favor of the current situation as it gives them more options.

“It is not a secret that when capacity shrinks, carriers will raise rates,” said the executive. “There is enough capacity out there right now for existing carriers to pick up any slack should more carriers— including YRC Worldwide—were to exit the market.”

Logistics Management, 8/28/2009

ATA disputes truck safety report
Friday, 28 August 2009 00:00

The American Trucking Associations disagrees with a legal association’s new report that charges truck safety is poorly enforced.

The American Association for Justice, formally the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, analyzed data from the Motor Carrier Management Information System, maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The AAJ reported that as of April, 28,274 carriers in operation have conditional or unsatisfactory safety ratings.

The truck-involved fatality rate is at its lowest rate since the U.S. Department of Transportation began collecting this data in 1975, the ATA responded.

The 2009 Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Roadcheck yielded the highest compliance rates ever for the North American Standard Level I inspections, it added.

The AAJ said West Virginia led the nation in rate of companies in violation of safety requirements per 100,000 population with 58 companies, followed by North Dakota, 51, and Nebraska, 48.

Arizona, California and Hawaii tied, with one company in violation per state, with the lowest number of companies in violation.

The average number of companies violating requirements in any state was 15.

The AAJ noted that 87 percent of the companies violating safety standards have fleets of 10 trucks or fewer.

It also mentioned a 2009 Government Accountability Office report that more 1,000 trucking companies were “reincarnations” of prior companies that had been fined or found in violation.

The FMCSA was not immediately available for comment.

The report is available at, 8/28/2009

New Texas truck rules slated to take effect Sept. 1
Thursday, 27 August 2009 00:00

Several rules that affect trucking in Texas soon will be getting a makeover. During the legislative session that ended this spring, lawmakers authorized changes that include shifting certain trucking-related duties away from TxDOT. They also allowed an idling exemption to expire. The changes take effect Tuesday, Sept. 1.

One new law, HB3097, shifts from the Texas Department of Transportation to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles duties that include motor vehicle titling, vehicle registration and oversight of trucking.

Even though the DMV is slated to take over duties the first of the month, the new agency isn’t expected to be up and running until the first of November. Once they are in business, the DMV will be in charge of all powers, duties, obligations, rights of action, personnel, computers, other property and equipment, files, and related materials of the Motor Carrier Division (with the exception of oversize/overweight) and Vehicle Titles and Registration Division.

Another rule change takes effect Tuesday because lawmakers didn’t act. Truckers stopping in Texas may soon see enforcement of anti-idling rules stepped up as an exemption of many local governmentenforced idling restrictions expires.

Truck drivers will no longer be allowed to idle during federally mandated rest periods. Cities and counties that enforce idling restrictions have agreed to sign a memorandum of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that limits idling to five minutes at a time.

The memorandum exempted idling during “government-mandated rest periods,” but that exemption ends on Sept. 1.

Some major changes for commercial vehicles will affect driver’s licensing. One new rule that takes effect the first of the month, HB2730, brings the hammer down on truckers who get mixed up in the illegal alien trade. Truckers will be disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle for life if they use any motor vehicle in an offense that involves the transportation, concealment or harboring of an alien.

Also included in the new licensing rule is a requirement that truckers notify the state and their employers of convictions of any motor vehicle traffic law or ordinance violation. The notification must be made within seven days.

In addition, applicants for CDLs will be allowed to receive delivery of their license at a post office box only if the applicant provided the Department of Public Safety with documentation necessary to verify the validity of the physical address where the applicant lives.

Land Line Magazine, 8/27/2009

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