Hours rule holdup delaying capacity crisis, FTR says

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Updated Dec 9, 2011

Trucking is experiencing a normal recovery from the recession and should be able to impose rate increases of 6 to 8 percent in 2012, but driver and truck capacity will be slow to bounce back, economist Noel Perry said during an FTR Associates online seminar Thursday, Dec. 8.

Perry, an FTR senior consultant, said the “capacity crisis” he forecast for this year will be pushed back to next year because of the delay in revising the hours-of-service rule, which is expected to restrict productivity. By late 2012, the industry likely will be dealing with that impact and the effects of slow economic recovery.

Perry said the industry is just now recovering from the recession: Freight transportation is growing almost as fast as Gross Domestic Product and has recovered about 41 percent of tonnage hauled before the recession. He doesn’t expect a complete recovery until the end of this decade – perhaps sooner – but he’s forecasting economic growth of 2.5 percent to 3 percent next year.

One growing niche is serving companies that handle hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil wells; trucks haul water and sand to these often remote exploration sites. “Short-term, it’s a big bonanza for trucking,” Perry said.