Tonnage down in September

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Small Business Administration established a webpage at www.disastercontractingassistance.com to help small businesses find federal contracting opportunities to support post-disaster cleanup and rebuilding in areas devastated by recent storms and flooding. Also on the main page is a link to FedBizOpps, which allows businesses to sign up for e-mail notification of open contracts related to specified fields.

Legislative changes that took effect Oct. 28 will make the U.S. Small Business Administration loan program more accessible to small businesses facing financial loss when the owner or essential employee is called to active military duty, SBA announced. The new law extended the application period for the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, increased the unsecured loan threshold and raised the maximum loan limit. For more information, go to www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.

UPS released new list rates for 2009, including an average increase of 5.9 percent for UPS Ground packages and an average net increase of 4.9 percent on all air express and U.S. origin international shipments. UPS Freight announced a general rate increase of 5.9 percent for 2009.

FleetCards USA (www.fleetcardsusa.com) launched its FleetCards TrendWatch advisory council that will examine the influences and effects that most impact the American fleet card business.

AmeriQuest Transportation Services posted a video on its website at www.ameriquestcorp.com/movie to summarize its services for both private fleets and truckload carriers.

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.9 percent in September, marking the third consecutive month-to-month drop. The index fell 1.6 percent in August and 0.9 percent in July. In September, the seasonally adjusted tonnage index equaled 112.6, its lowest level since October 2007. The not-seasonally adjusted index increased 1.1 percent to 116.3 in September.

For the third quarter, the seasonally adjusted index contracted 1.2 percent compared with the second quarter, equating to a 4.8 percent annualized rate decrease. The seasonally adjusted index was just 0.8 percent higher compared with September 2007. While the index rose year-over-year because of weak 2007 volumes, it quickly is falling toward negative territory.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello says the recent decreases in truck tonnage are consistent with a recession. “I anticipate truck freight volumes to continue to fall before they improve,” says Costello, who forecasts a recession through the first quarter of 2009. “It is a tough freight market, and there is nothing on the horizon that says this will change anytime soon.”


Service offers up-to-date surcharge data
When fuel prices are on the rise, a fuel surcharge based on Monday’s Department of Energy nationwide average price – which DOE estimates by surveying a limited number of fueling locations – often may be several cents below Wednesday’s actual pump price and may bear no relation to the actual prices paid along particular freight lanes. A new service called – FuelSurchargeIndex.org powered by ProMiles (www.promiles.com), a routing and fuel management provider – offers users average retail fuel prices along a specific route updated to within the last 24 hours.

“With this type of data transparency, everyone impacted by volatile fuel prices can better understand the actual retail price of fuel along any route in the U.S.,” says Tony Stroncheck, chairman, chief executive officer and president of sales and marketing for ProMiles. “This product fills a need in the market for more timely access to fuel pricing information.”

While shippers, fleets, owner-operators and brokers can calculate the same point-to-point fuel price along a specific lane free of charge, premium services also are available on a subscription basis at varying levels. Premium services include the ability to calculate a fuel surcharge based on a specific trigger point, mpg and routing method. A fuel surcharge contract template, applicable in most if not all jurisdictions, also is available.

Subscribers also can see truck stops along the route, access historical fuel price data, view state breakdowns, export data and access a direct interface to third-party applications. FuelSurchargeIndex.org is offering a free 25-transaction trial of the full service.