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Transportation News Bulletins - LTL and TL

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FTR Trucking Conditions Index drops in May
Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00

NASHVILLE, Ind.—FTR Associates’ Trucking Conditions Index dropped two points in May to a -22, foreshadowing more hardships to come for the trucking industry.

The latest dip was because of overcapacity in the trucking industry. The FTR Trucking Conditions Index combines five trucking industry statistics into one metric to measure the overall health of the U.S. industry. It’s published in FTR’s Trucker’s Dashboard.

Before the two-point drop, the index had shown three consecutive monthly improvements. A rating of 0 is neutral, so the current -22 places the health of the trucking industry “in solidly negative territory,” FTR said in a news release.

"The improvement in the Trucking Conditions Index, prior to June, was a function of reductions in the interest rates that truckers are paying, as well as the general expectation that freight will stop falling later this year," said Noel Perry, senior consultant and managing director of FTR Consulting Group. He said further improvement in the Index will “require that freight volumes actually stop contracting and rates begin to improve. This will not occur for some months yet and when it does, it will be a slow climb.", 7/17/2009

NCWM removes temperature compensation on fuel pumps from
Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00

NATSO, the trade association representing the nation’s truckstop and travel plaza industry, today, July 17, congratulated the National Conference on Weights and Measures for its decision to remove automatic temperature compensation (ATC) for retail fuel pumps as a method of sale from its agenda.

The conference, which sets the standards for consumer products, voted to remove consideration of both voluntary and mandatory standards for selling fuel using a standard benchmark of 60 degrees. Under the current system, fuel is sold based on a volume standard.

In its remarks, NCWM cited consensus against ATC as well as economic cost factors, lack of consumer benefit and absence of uniformity in the marketplace as reasons for its decision. Consumers also would have had to bear the costs associated with implementing ATC as states struggle against limited financial resources and the economic downturn, NCWM said.

NATSO—which has long supported the sale of retail fuel based on volume because studies show ATC would hurt consumers and cost businesses thousands to implement—says NCWM's decision maintains a level playing field for consumers, who would have incurred the cost of implementing the new standard with no real benefit.

“We’re pleased that the National Conference on Weight and Measures voted to keep fairness and transparency in fuel pricing and delivery,” says Lisa Mullings, NATSO chief executive officer. “The current system yields the most benefits for consumers, who ultimately would have paid the price for changing requirements.”

Commercial Carrier Journal, 7/17/2009

FreightWatch: Cargo theft rises
Thursday, 16 July 2009 00:00

While thefts rates vary between commodity groups and industries, across the board the average loss per cargo theft incident is sharply on the rise, according to global logistics security provider FreightWatch International's Bi- Annual Cargo Theft Report.

FreightWatch recorded 74 cargo theft incidents in June, well beyond the average of 48 to 50 thefts per month recorded throughout 2008 and 2009. Cell phones, in particular, are being stolen at a rate 50 percent higher than in 2008, while average loss per incident has risen from $1.1 million in 2008 to $2.1 million in 2009.

“In contrast, full truckload pharmaceutical thefts rates are down,” says Barry Conlon, president of Austin, Texasbased FreightWatch USA. “The significant decrease in the number of pharmaceutical cargo thefts is attributed to the hardening of supply chains in the top pharmaceutical companies in the United States.” Pharmaceutical companies are taking steps to secure their supply chain, protecting their high-value temperature-sensitive medications and products, according to FreightWatch; research indicates that those pharmaceutical companies choosing not to secure their supply chains are the ones suffering the losses this year.

The research conducted by FreightWatch shows the average loss per incident for virtually every commodity group except pharmaceuticals and electronics has increased significantly from the first six months of 2008 to the same time period this year., 7/16/2009

Poll shows support for heavier trucks
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 00:00

The Coalition for Transportation Productivity, a coalition of more than 100 shippers and allied associations seeking increased federal weight limits on interstate highways, today, July 15, announced the results of a national poll it says demonstrates a majority of Americans support raising interstate truck weight limits without making trucks larger.

CTP says more than half of Americans surveyed favor allowing trucks with proper safeguards to carry more weight on U.S. interstates as a way to make roads safer, reduce environmental impact and strengthen the economy. CTP says the results of its commissioned national poll reveal broad support for responsible truck weight reform as outlined in The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2009 (H.R. 1799).

“Americans solidly back the same truck weight reform proposed by H.R. 1799, providing strong support for Congress to responsibly raise the federal vehicle weight limit,” says CTP Co-Chair John Runyan. “With truck traffic already increasing 11 times faster than road capacity and freight expected to double by 2025, H.R. 1799 would make sure America’s shipping needs are met in a way that improves highway safety and reduces our carbon footprint.”

Among the survey’s key findings, according to CTP:

  • A majority of Americans favor higher weight limits for properly outfitted trucks. By a margin of 51 percent to 39 percent, a majority would favor increasing the weight limit if it contributes to safer roads, greater fuel economy and more productive highway transportation;
  • Americans are more likely to support increasing weight limits when they learn that additional axles would make the tractor-trailers safer and better for road surfaces. A strong majority, 66 percent, would be more likely to support legislative action to allow trucks to carry more weight on interstates if those trucks add an extra axle; and
  • Americans also are more likely to support a weight limit increase due to positive environmental implications, with 63 percent more likely to support an increase in weight that trucks can carry on interstates if it would reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption.

The survey was conducted among 1,000 American adults by pollster Wilson Research Strategies and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent. The survey was taken June 16-22 via live operator telephone calls. The sample was stratified to be demographically and geographically representative of the national adult population.

Legislators in Congress are lining up on one side of the truck size and weight issue or the other. The CTP-backed legislation (H.R. 1799) introduced by Reps. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) would authorize states to allow trucks with a gross weight of up to 97,000 pounds to operate on interstate highways within their state provided that trucks operating above 80,000 pounds add a sixth axle, with brakes. In addition, heavier vehicles would pay a fee that would be dedicated to bridge investments in states that authorize their use.

The American Trucking Associations supports H.R. 1799, saying it could allow trucking companies to use more efficient vehicles to deliver more freight while making fewer trips. The result, ATA says, would be fewer crashes, less fuel burned, less congestion and reduced carbon and toxic emissions.

On the other side, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) introduced legislation (S. 779, H.R. 1618) that would extend the current limit of 80,000 pounds and maximum length of 53 feet for tractortrailer trucks on interstate highways to the National Highway System. The NHS covers some 160,000 miles of highway, while interstates represent 44,000 miles.

Within the trucking community, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are backing the Lautenberg-McGovern bill, citing safety and infrastructure concerns., 7/15/2009

Freight Hauling Capacity Loss Seen Setting Stage for ‘Bull Market’ Recovery After Recession Ends
Monday, 13 July 2009 00:00

A steep and prolonged economic downturn forced many for-hire carriers to cut hauling capacity, but the
stage may also be set for what one analyst called “the mother of all bull freight markets.”

Carriers with little or no debt that can offer a range of services will most likely survive and prosper when
demand returns, according to experts and executives interviewed for the 2009 edition of the Transport
Topics 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in the United States and Canada.

A Transport Topics analysis of the Top 100 documented the capacity cutback: the number of company
tractors remained flat for 2008, and tractors provided by owner-operators fell 6.9% from 2007.

Like many executives, Rollie Anderson, president of Anderson Trucking Service, St. Cloud, Minn., said he has put the brakes on spending to conserve cash now.

“We are limiting capital expenditures,” he said. “We feel that when this recession is over, with the
inevitable loss of carrier capacity, ATS will find itself in a stronger, more viable position in the
transportation industry.”

Other trends are also limiting capacity expansion.

Analyst John Larkin of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. said more stringent safety regulations and difficulties in
recruiting enough people to replace older drivers will limit the ability of motor carriers to expand.

While the recession hit hard, some suffered more than others.

Household goods carriers saw revenue plummet as home purchasing dried up.

Vehicle haulers saw volumes decline as manufacturers slashed production of cars and trucks.

Even traditionally strong sectors, such as package and contract/logistics, felt the effects.

For various reasons, refrigerated and flatbed carriers did far better in 2008 than truckload and less-thantruckload carriers. Refrigerated fleets handle food and beverages that are more stable in a recession, while flatbed carriers benefited from demand for oil field hauling.

Transport Topics, 7/13/2009

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