Tonnage nearly flat in July

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Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico was 6.6 percent higher in June 2008 than in June 2007, reaching $74.1 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Fitch Ratings downgraded the outlook for U.S. toll roads from stable to negative, citing lower traffic volumes due to volatile fuel prices, economic weakness and inflationary pressures. The report – “U.S. Transportation Assets: Facing a Temporary Decline or a Permanent Change?” – stated that toll roads are experiencing traffic declines of as much as 16 percent.

Private equity firm Fenway Partners launched The Open Road Foundation (https://www.openroadfoundation.com/), a nonprofit organization that provides victim assistance and supports educational and career development programs for employees and owner-operators of the transportation and logistics companies within the Fenway portfolio, as well as their dependents.

GE Capital Solutions Fleet Services redesigned my.FleetOffice with a new name, look, navigation and functionality. The new design is organized by drivers, vehicles and reports, and includes multilanguage access, according to the company. GE says its technical advisory board provided input through design workshops to ensure that the new navigation addresses customers’ workflows from ordering to remarketing.

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.3 percent in July, marking the first month-to-month drop since April. The seasonally adjusted tonnage index equaled 116.2 in July, while the nonseasonally adjusted index fell 0.1 percent to 119.7.

The seasonally adjusted index was 4.4 percent higher compared with July 2007, marking its ninth consecutive year-over-year increase, although the gain was a full percentage point lower than the improvement in June. Year-to-date, the index was up 3.6 percent compared with the same period in 2007. Tonnage contracted 1.7 percent and 1.5 percent in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said July’s tonnage reading matched several anecdotal reports from motor carriers that freight was softer in July than the previous month. Costello cautioned that truck tonnage could be volatile in coming months because the economy is expected to soften further before improving. However, slight declines in fuel prices and tightening capacity could help offset softer freight volumes, he said.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons and key financial indicators. The baseline year is 2000.


ATA launches ATA Business Solutions
The American Trucking Associations last month unveiled ATA Business Solutions, a line of information products, business tools, services, training programs and conferences specifically designed to address the critical issues affecting trucking-related companies.

“We are bringing together some of the top minds in the industry to tackle the most pressing business issues, such as fuel efficiency, state taxes, driver safety training, security and much more,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “ATA Business Solutions are another valuable ATA service designed to help make trucking-related companies more profitable and efficient in today’s difficult economic times.”

ATA says ATA Business Solutions are developed and approved by top trucking-industry professionals, and they are tailored to all segments of the industry, from large fleets to owner-operators, as well as companies whose business depends on trucks to deliver their goods. Initially, ATA Business Solutions will focus on the following areas, some of which mirror existing councils within ATA:

* Accounting, tax, finance and risk;
* Safety;
* Technology and maintenance;
* Fuel economy/efficiency;
* Economics;
* Security and loss prevention; and
* Information technology and logistics.

A few of the ATA Business Solutions being launched include:

* ATA Safety on Demand, a Web-based system designed to help companies provide critical driver safety training anytime, anywhere there is an Internet connection;
* ATA Online State Tax Guide, an up-to-date trucking-specific state tax guide available for all of the 48 contiguous states; and
* ATA Fuel Crisis Survival Kit, designed to provide trucking-related companies with a comprehensive approach to reducing fuel consumption and costs.

For more information about ATA Business Solutions, go to www.atabusinesssolutions.com.