Tonnage falls in August

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Con-way Multimodal launched an enhanced Quick Pay program. Carriers can opt to receive payments through direct deposit, paper check or electronic funds transfer; immediate pay is available for a three percent processing fee, and seven-day pay for a two percent fee. There is no charge for the standard 30-day pay schedule.

The new North American Commercial Truck Outlook Report service launched by FTR Associates incorporates information provided for the last 20 years by the company to ACT Publications’ Commercial Truck Bus and Trailer Industry Outlook, which is being disbanded at the end of 2008. To receive the report, go to www.ftrassociates.net.

GE Capital Solutions Fleet Services announced that its Mobile Resource Management via telematics solution was recognized by the Minnesota High Tech Association as a finalist for its Tekne Award, which honors advancement in Minnesota’s technology industry.

Internal Revenue Service has acknowledged the certifications by manufacturers that certain advanced lean-burn technology vehicles running on diesel fuel qualify for the alternative motor vehicle tax credit. An $1,800 credit is available for the Mercedes GL 320 Blue Tec, while the Mercedes R 320 Blue Tec qualifies for a $1,550 credit. Buyers of the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0-liter TDI Sedan or SportWagen can receive a $1,300 tax credit, and the Mercedes ML 320 Blue Tec qualifies for a $900 credit.

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.6 percent in August from the July index number, marking the largest month-to-month drop since March. Also, the index fell 0.9 percent in July, a downward revision from the 0.3 percent drop initially reported. In August, the seasonally adjusted tonnage index equaled 113.6, its lowest level since November 2007; the not-seasonally adjusted index decreased 3.4 percent to 115.0 in August.

The seasonally adjusted index was 2.6 percent higher compared with August 2007, marking its 10th consecutive year-over-year increase. The gain was more than one percentage point lower than the improvement in July. Year-to-date, the index was up 3.4 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 freight slowed during July and August preceding an expected slowdown in economic activity, and that year-over-year growth in the index is simply the result of soft tonnage volumes in 2007. “We are forecasting a mild recession later this year and early next year,” Costello said. “Make no mistake about it – freight volumes are weakening.” Because trucking is a leading economic indicator, Costello said trucking eventually will see an improvement before the overall economy.

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.


NAFTA surface trade rose in July
Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico was 15.9 percent higher in July 2008 than in July 2007, reaching $71.6 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico fell 3.4 percent in July from June.

U.S.-Canada surface transportation trade totaled $46.9 billion in July, up 19.8 percent compared to July 2007. The value of imports carried by truck was 2.6 percent higher in July 2008 than July 2007, while the value of exports carried by truck was 16.2 percent higher. Illinois led all states in surface trade with Canada in July 2008 with $5.0 billion.

U.S.-Mexico surface transportation trade totaled $24.8 billion in July, up 9.0 percent compared to July 2007. The value of imports carried by truck was 7.2 percent higher in July 2008 than July 2007, while the value of exports carried by truck was 13.8 percent higher. Texas led all states in surface trade with Mexico in July 2008 with $8.1 billion.


New Jersey Turnpike Authority OKs toll hikes
Following a public meeting, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority on Oct. 10 approved a revised plan for toll increases following Gov. Jon Corzine’s request to lessen the burden on families in the state. Under the newly adopted plan, the toll for the average truck trip on the New Jersey Turnpike will increase by $2.05 this year and by $3.75 in 2012. The toll for the average truck trip on the Garden State Parkway will increase by 60 cents this year and by 95 cents in 2012.

Under the authority’s previously proposed toll plan, the average truck trip on the New Jersey Turnpike would have increased by $2.55 this year, by $3.80 in 2012, and by $1.15 by 2023. The toll for the average truck trip on the Garden State Parkway would have increased by 55 cents this year, by 95 cents in 2012, and by 30 cents by 2023.

The new plan also provides an across-the-board 5 percent off-peak E-ZPass discount to all truck drivers using the Turnpike and Parkway. “Truck drivers are experiencing added financial pressures due to the high cost of diesel fuel,” Turnpike Authority Chairman Kris Kolluri wrote in a letter to Corzine. “Reducing truck drivers’ financial burden and encouraging them to travel during less congested travel times and to continue to use the Turnpike and Parkway, rather than local roads, are important objectives.”

The revised rates were drafted in response to the economic downturn as well as public sentiment gathered at three public hearings and written comments. The plan funds a $7 billion 10-year capital plan and makes a $1.25 billion contribution to the Transportation Trust Fund Authority for a mass transit tunnel between New Jersey and New York.