Trucking conditions remain strong as industry walks tight line on capacity crisis

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Increased rates and strong economic indicators held trucking conditions in strong favor for motor carriers in September, according to FTR’s monthly Trucking Conditions Index.

The TCI read 9.07, which “reflects strong underlying market trends,” FTR says.

Trucking condtions have continued to grow more favorable for trucking companies in recent months and will remain “very positive [and] stable for the foreseeable future,” FTR notes in its monthly report.

The firm says it expects the index to remain unchanged, barring a change in the economy or increased regulatory drag on trucking’s capacity.

“Capacity utilization…is at the breakpoint between manageable tightness and crisis,” FTR says in its report.

FTR’s Director of Transportation Analysis, Jonathan Starks, says rates are much higher than this time last year and should stay that way until January and February.

“The combination of [hours-of-service] changes in 2013 and weather events in 2014 was enough to move market conditions in truckers’ favor,” Starks said. “Contract negotiations will take place during the winter slow season – we will see how much market clout the fleets are able to use. The real results will come later in the year. Successful shippers will be able to secure capacity and limit cost inflation by working with their carrier base rather than focusing on negotiating strength.”