Tonnage up 3.1% in January
ATA index up 5.7% year-over-year
The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 3.1 percent in January following a revised 1.3 percent increase in December 2009. The latest gain boosted the SA index from 107 in December to 110.4 in January, its highest level since September 2008. The nonseasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 99.5 in January, down 3.3 percent from the previous month.
Compared with January 2009, SA tonnage surged 5.7 percent, which was the best year-over-year reading since January 2005 and the second consecutive increase. For all of 2009, the tonnage index was down 8.7 percent – slightly larger than the previously reported 8.3 percent drop – the largest annual decrease since a 12.3 percent plunge in 1982.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says the latest tonnage reading, coupled with anecdotal reports from carriers, indicates that both the industry and the economy are clearly in a recovery mode. “While I don’t expect tonnage to continue growing as robustly as it did in January, the industry is finally moving in the right direction,” Costello says. “Although there are still risks that could throw the rebound offtrack, the likelihood of that happening continues to diminish.”
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons and key financial indicators. The baseline year is 2000.
FTR Associates released preliminary data showing February Class 8 truck total net orders for all major North American OEMs at 7,628 units, 19.7 percent higher than January when orders were the lowest since 2002. While February compared positively to the previous month as well as to February 2009, orders remained significantly below the 2009 monthly average of 10,064 units.
J.J. Keller & Associates says it reduced initial International Fuel Tax Association, International Registration Plan and mileage tax audit assessments by more than 75 percent in 2009, helping clients with a total of 84 audits and collectively saving more than $100,000.
Fleet One is offering the Operation Homefront fuel card to fleets wishing to support U.S. troops. When a driver fills up with the fuel card, Fleet One will make a donation directly to the organization, up to $250,000 every year.
States participating in the Unified Carrier Registration Plan and Agreement may assess and collect fees after Dec. 31, 2009, based on the fee structure contained in the current regulation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said last month in regulatory guidance. In accordance with a law passed by Congress in 2008, fees must be based on the number of self-propelled commercial motor vehicles owned and operated. FMCSA is considering an adjustment of UCR Plan fees, but a final rule has not been issued.
The cost of ground transportation for Canadian shippers declined 9.6 percent from December 2008 to December 2009, but freight costs appear to be stabilizing into 2010, according to the Canadian General Freight Index.
NAFTA surface trade up 10.5% in December
Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico was 10.5 percent higher in December 2009 than in December 2008, with a value of $58.5 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The increase was the first over the same month of the previous year since September 2008, but the value of trade in December still remained 4.0 percent below the value in December 2007.
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