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Trucks most utilized mode in NAFTA trade in 2017, carrying 63.3%, BTS reports



Trucks accounted for $720.8 billion of the $1.1 trillion in freight with Canada and Mexico, BTS reported. (The Trucker file photo)

All five of the U.S. major transportation modes carried more freight by value in trade with NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico in 2017 than in 2016, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported Friday.

Trucks continued to be the most utilized mode of moving cargo into and out of Canada and Mexico, carrying 63.3 percent of the freight transported.

In fact, trucks accounted for $720.8 billion of the $1.1 trillion in freight with Canada and Mexico, BTS reported.

A 17.3 percent increase in the year-over-year price of crude oil in 2017 played a key role in the annual increases in the dollar value of goods shipped by pipeline, up 31.3 percent, and vessel, up 29.6 percent.

As a result, the share of freight moved by other modes decreased: air by 0.1 percent; rail by 0.2 percent and truck by 2.2 percent.

Trucks carried 60.2 percent of the $614.0 billion of goods imported from Canada and Mexico in 2017 at 18.5 percent; pipeline at 8.4 percent; vessel by 6.4 percent and air, 3.1 percent.

The value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased by 7.1 percent to $582.4 billion, with trucks carrying 57.7 percent.

And although trucks carried the largest share of U.S.-Canada freight by value in 2017, its share of the total decreased by 2.4 percentage points, BTS noted.

Trucks hauled 50.1 percent of the $300 billion in goods imported from Canada in 2017, followed by rail at 20.6 percent; pipeline at 17.2 percent; vessel at 5.0 percent and air at 3.8 percent.

The top category of freight transported between the U.S. and Canada in 2017 was vehicle parts worth $107.4 billion. BTS said $60.7 billion or 56.7 percent, moved by truck and $43.7 billion or 40.7 percent moved by rail.

In trade with Mexico, the value of goods transported increased 6.1 percent to $557 billion, with trucks carrying 69.1 percent followed by rail at 14.4 percent; vessel, 9.5 percent; air, 3 percent and pipeline .7 percent.

Trucks carried the largest share of U.S.-Mexico freight in 2017 at 69.1 percent, although year-over-year, that was down 1.9 percent from 2016.

Trucks carried 69.9 percent of the $314 billion in goods imported from Mexico in 2017, followed by rail at 16.5 percent; vessel at 7.8 percent; air at 2.4 percent and pipeline at 0.1 percent.

In goods exported to Mexico in 2017, trucks carried 68 percent of the total $243 billion, followed by vessel, 11.6 percent; rail, 11.5 percent; air, 3.8 percent; and pipeline, 1.4 percent.

The top commodity hauled between the U.S. and Mexico last year was vehicles and parts totaling $104.8 billion, with $48.9 billion or 46.7 percent moved by truck and $44.7 billion or 42.7 percent moved by rail.

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DAT: Spot rates weaken as weather clouds a sunny forecast



This chart shows that both van and reefer rates were down based on a seven-day average compiled on March 16. (Courtesy: DAT)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Just when spot truckload rates and demand seemed ready for an upward swing, they took another hit last week.

With weather disruptions on vital truck routes in the Midwest and Rockies, van and refrigerated load-to-truck ratios slipped during the week ending March 16, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards:

  • Van: 1.6 loads per truck
  • Reefer: 2.9 loads per truck
  • Flatbed: 22 loads per truck

The DAT load-to-truck ratio measures the number of loads moved on the spot market relative to the number of available trucks. Newsal average rates declined as well compared to the previous week:

  • Van: $1.86/mile, down 2 cents
  • Reefer: $2.19/mile, down 2 cents
  • Flatbed: $2.34/mile, unchanged

Van trends

Spot van volumes remain ahead of March 2018 levels but so far this month demand for trucks is no better than it was in February 2019. Capacity is abundant and spot van rates are drifting: On DAT’s top 100 van lanes last week, pricing fell on 53 and rose on 36. Eleven lanes were neutral.

Where Rates Were Up: With freight markets in the Midwest struggling with unusual weather, there was a ripple effect for supply chains. For instance, the challenge of getting freight into Denver last week led to an 18-cent increase in the average rate from Seattle to Salt Lake City ($1.90/mile). On the other hand, the extra West Coast trucks in Salt Lake City caused rates on the lane from there to Stockton, California, to decline.

What to Watch: Expect a boost in flatbed pricing as the demand to move heavy machinery and construction materials into the region picks up. High demand for flatbeds in the coming weeks may cause van availability to tighten on some lanes.

Reefer trends

The national average spot reefer rate has declined in seven of the last eight weeks. On the top 72 reefer lanes, 26 lanes moved up while 43 lanes fell and three were neutral. We’re waiting on California and Florida produce to pull rates higher.

Where Rates Were Up: Sacramento, California, to Salt Lake City jumped 40 cents to $2.35/mile, possibly due to trouble getting into Denver. In the Midwest, two lanes from Grand Rapids, Michigan, rebounded from last week:

  • Grand Rapids to Madison, Wisconsin, increased 22 cents to $2.58/mile
  • Grand Rapids to Atlanta added 21 cents to $2.71/mile

Where Rates Fell: Many of the prior week’s gainers came back to earth, including Elizabeth, New Jersey, to Boston (down 38 cents to $3.81/mile) and Philadelphia to Miami (off 22 cents to $1.96/mile).

DAT Trendlines are generated using DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. The RateView database is comprised of more than $60 billion in freight payments.

DAT load boards average 1.2 million load posts searched per business day.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit and follow @LoadBoards on Twitter.

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ACT: Current Class 8 story is big backlogs, slowing orders



ACT says heavy commercial vehicle markets continue to benefit from key triggers and new technologies, (Courtesy: VOLVO TRUCKS)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — In the release of its Commercial Vehicle Dealer Digest, ACT Research said that recently softer Class 8 orders are attributed to backlogs that are still out about 10 months.

Many of the orders normally booked in the year’s first quarter were actually placed in the rush to get into the queue in the second half of 2018.

The report provides monthly analysis on transportation trends, equipment markets, and the economy.

“The rolling-over of ACT’s dashboard guidance suggests today’s order weakness will transition from ‘too much backlog’ to an equipment supply-freight demand imbalance in the near future,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “That said, heavy commercial vehicle markets continue to benefit from key triggers, including still-strong freight rates (being marked-down from record levels) and new technologies, like better fuel efficiency and safety technologies, as well as increased demand generated in the trailer segment for drop-and-hook to keep drivers moving.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at .


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ATA truck tonnage index down 0.2 percent in February



Despite the February decline, the index was 5.4 percent higher than February 2018. (The Trucker file photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index was down 0.2 percent in February after increasing 2.5 percent in January. In February, the index equaled 117.4 (2015=100) compared with 117.6 in January.

“After a strong January, I’m pleasantly surprised that the index didn’t fall much last month,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “I continue to expect tonnage to moderate like other indicators, including retail sales, manufacturing activity and housing starts. Additionally, the level of inventories throughout the supply chain have increased, which is a drag on truck freight.”

January’s reading was revised up slightly compared with our February press release.

Compared with February 2018, the SA index increased 5.4 percent, down from January’s 5.8 percent gain. In 2018, the index increased 6.7 percent over 2017, which was the largest annual gain since 1998.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 106.9 in February, 5.7 percent below January’s level (113.3). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.




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