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Transportation News Bulletins - LTL and TL

Our current transportation LTL and TL news bulletins are powered by SMC3

Truckers to FHWA: ‘We have a parking problem’
Friday, 15 January 2010 00:00

Truckers have known for ages that truck parking is a precious commodity. Finding a safe and secure location to park is becoming more and more rare—forcing truckers to find a spot in sometimes dangerous locations.

The Federal Highway Administration and Congress have been aware of that lack of parking facilities for heavy-duty trucks for many years. In fact, in SAFETEA-LU, the public law that authorizes the Federal transportation programs, has provided funds and a mandate that FHWA establish a pilot program to address long-term parking shortages.

On Nov. 27, 2009, FHWA published a request for comments on a New Information Collection in order to establish a “real-time dissemination of publicly or privately provided commercial motor vehicle parking availability” using Intelligent Transportation Systems.

The plan calls for electronic notification to let drivers know the availability of parking spaces in their area. Obviously knowing that there is or is not availability will help—but that is just a small part of the issue and does not make more space available.

OOIDA is collecting input from members to file comments with FHWA. Click here to fill out the online survey. The survey will only be collecting data through Jan. 22.

Land Line Magazine, 1/15/2010

Spot Market Trucking Rising, Says TransCore
Thursday, 14 January 2010 00:00
Stronger demand pushed spot market freight index up 11 percent in December

Trucking's spot market shot up 11 percent in December from November as freight volumes more than doubled year-over-year, according to TransCore.

That's a reversal of typical trends, it said, as spot freight availability typically declines from November to December. "Although December is typically one of the weaker months for spot freight, it emerged as the strongest month in 2009," TransCore said. TransCore saw a 103 percent year-over-year increase in freight volumes shipped through its DAT Network compared with December 2008. In that year freight availability declined 9.5 percent from November to December.

December was the third consecutive month with positive year-over-year comparisons, thanks in part to improvements in the economy and to the extreme weakness of the fourth quarter of 2008, which marked the depths of the recession.

TransCore's Freight Index increased 10 percent from a year ago in October and 65 percent in November.

Journal of Commerce Online, 1/14/2010

What Will the Heavy-Duty Industry Look Like in 2020?
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 00:00

Imagine caravans of trailers pulled by a tractor made out of plastics and ceramics, piloted by a single driver on special truck-only highways.

In reviewing the heavy-duty business, we find no evidence that this business has ever undergone the magnitude of change that it faces today. What's more, never have so many external factors been so critical to the industry's success.

As we look ahead to what the next decade will bring, let's consider the following five areas of dominant influence:


Most prognosticators won't go out on a limb for the case of radical gains in mpg. So the question isn't "how many miles per gallon?" The question is, "miles per gallon of what?"

Government forecasts agree that 2015-2020 will represent the peak for world oil production, with a long gradual decline following. There are only three ways to curb oil consumption by heavy trucks: fuel efficiency, fuel substitution and a reduction in vehicle miles driven (VMD). Since the overwhelming consensus is that VMD will increase, the first two solutions merit a closer look.

Engine efficiency will be more like a step function than the long improvement curve we have experienced thus far. Emphasis will be on renewable (notably bio based or hydrogen) fuels. There will certainly be a move toward multiple hybrid designs and a variety of liquid fuels. At the moment, a diesel/electric configuration looks like a strong favorite.

Watch for the following:

  • Increase of diesel thermal efficiency by at least 70 percent;
  • Hybrids changing our focus from horsepower and mpg to $/kW;
  • Parasitic power loss being attacked on every conceivable front, from actively managed aerodynamics to reductions in vehicle weight.


Concerns about air quality shape discussion on everything from engine technology to municipal road building plans.

Stated goals for emission reductions are astounding. Today, 2 percent of vehicles emit 30 percent of all NOx and nearly 65 percent of particulates. EPA regulations look to cut these numbers by over 90 percent by 2025.

Off-road diesels will be fully involved in the emission crusade soon, adding more impetus to technologies from high-pressure direct injection and LNG additions to advanced non-media filtration of exhaust.


A quick perusal of Internet entries covering 2020 presents the road building plans of everything from the federal government to those of tiny towns like Geneva, Ill. In general, here's what future truck operators will find:

The Bad News: Intensive funding of anything that smacks of mass transit. Every light rail, monorail or other municipal idea that assumes that people would rather take the bus than drive will siphon dollars away from road repair and development. Intermodal gets the same kind of reverence from municipal planners.

The Good News: The rising health costs from traffic congestion forces the mass transit crowd to look at more traditional methods of congestion mitigation as well.

From the city of Chicago to the Los Angeles planning authorities, other long-range possibilities are taking shape. The most popular is the concept of "truckways" for the exclusive use of heavy-duty vehicles.


Advances will cluster around the following:

  • Materials. Stronger, lighter and recyclable are key. Liquid crystal polymers, carbon/arimid type composites and ceramics look like good bets. Vehicles will be 100 percent recyclable, consisting of 70 percent polymer and 30 percent metals and ceramics.
  • Electronics. Steer-by-wire will be replaced with steer-by-wireless. Actively managed aerodynamics will also go wireless. Organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology will change everything, from operator interface to external graphics. Ferro magnetic fluids will revolutionize any application currently using friction materials (braking, clutch, etc.). All accessories will be electric or electric over hydraulic, with vehicles sporting 500-1,000 volt systems.
  • Fuel/Lubricant/Coolant. Functional fluids will have a substantial biomass component, most derived from soybean, yellow grease (animal product), canola oil and even mustard seeds. Ethanol is not expected to be a major part of the heavy truck diet by 2020, due to the enormous capital required to scale up production of non-feedstock basic materials.


The challenge to train and enable people in this new environment will be critical.

More functions will be transferred from the driver and technician to the truck itself. Active Driver Assistance Systems will coordinate advanced detection, braking, stability and collision avoidance for the driver controlling an electronically coupled caravan through a major city's truckway.

Creating almost a neural network, the driver will be connected with his vehicle, nearby vehicles, the external environment, shipper/receivers and even his own freight.

Man and machine truly become one!, 1/13/2010

Transport Activity Improving Slightly, Fed Says
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 00:00

The U.S. economy continued to improve modestly from mid-November to early January and conditions have improved for transportation, but economic activity remained low, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.

Five of the Fed's 12 districts reported mixed or slightly improved transportation activity, with the Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas and Richmond districts showing increased activity and Kansas City reporting mixed results, the Fed said in its latest “beige book” report, released eight times a year.

Freight transport businesses saw a “slight upturn” in volume, but shipments are still well below their yearago levels and margins remained depressed. Businesses expect modest volume improvements in 2010.

In Atlanta, freight transportation demand improved modesty from mid-December to mid-January, the Fed said.

Transportation demand fell in Kansas City in November and December, but business leaders there are optimistic about the near future.

The report, prepared by the Philadelphia Fed, was based on information collected from Nov. 21 though Jan. 4.

Transport Topics, 1/13/2010

U.S. diesel price surges
Tuesday, 12 January 2010 00:00

The national average retail price of a gallon of diesel climbed for the third consecutive week, this time jumping 8.2 cents to $2.879 for the week ending Jan. 11.

The price, which has climbed 15.3 cents since Dec. 21, is 56.5 cents higher than the same week last year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The price is the highest since Nov. 10, 2008, when it was $2.944.

All regions tracked by DOE saw price increases. The biggest increase, 13.3 cents, was found in New England, where prices climbed to $3.068, the nation's most expensive diesel by region. The smallest increase, 6.3 cents, was found on the West Coast, where prices climbed to $2.971. The nation's least expensive diesel by region, $2.814, was found in the Rocky Mountains, where prices climbed 6.8 cents.

California, which DOE tracks separately for its weekly update, saw a price increase of 7.3 cents to $3.032; that price is 69.8 cents higher than last year. For state-by-state diesel prices, updated daily, click here.

DOE said in its most recent monthly short-term energy outlook that diesel will average $2.96 this year, two cents higher than the previous forecast., 1/12/2010

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