Trucking Biz Buzz

DAT Solutions: No day off for van, reefer rates

The number of load posts on DAT MembersEdge dropped 13 percent and truck posts fell 15 percent for the week ending Sept. 10 – not bad, considering that most businesses were closed for the Labor Day holiday. A four-day week is 20 percent shorter than a five-day week, so you’d expect a 20 percent decline in all load board activity.

To understand the impact on load-to-truck ratios, let’s look at the three big equipment types last week:

  • Van L/T ratio: 3.2. That’s down 0.4 percent, basically unchanged from last week when the ratio was the highest since early July.
  • Reefer L/T ratio: 6. Down 9 percent but a very strong number for this time of year.
  • Flatbed L/T ratio: 12.2. That’s up 21 percent, a big increase even though rates fell by a couple of cents.

Here’s a closer look at the latest trends in the spot market:

Van rates hold: The national average van rate held on to last week’s gains and was unchanged at $1.66/mile. Demand for trucks was up, and there weren’t a lot of big price changes on the top 100 van lanes.

Better in Texas: Texas volumes are improving and rates were up on most major outbound lanes from Dallas. Average outbound: $1.55/mile, up 3 cents. Dallas-Houston paid an average of $2.20/mile, a penny better than the previous week.

Top van markets by region:

  • West: Los Angeles, $2.03/mile, down 2 cents
  • Midwest: Chicago, $1.99/mile, down 2 cents
  • Southeast: Charlotte, $1.92/mile, down 3 cents
  • Northeast: Allentown, Pa., $2.01/mile, down 3 cents

Prices in Chicago, Columbus, Seattle, and Philadelphia are all up from where they were a month ago.

Reefer lanes with gains: The national average spot market rate for reefers gained a penny to $1.93/mile compared to the previous week. Reefer volumes held up during the Labor Day week. Of the top 72 reefer lanes, 35 paid better while rates slipped lower on 32 lanes.

North is up: Demand for reefers was strongest up north. Chicago, Elizabeth, N.J., and Grand Rapids, Mich., were numbers 1, 2, and 3 for reefer load posts on MembersEdge.

Key reefer lanes: Several major reefer lanes remained solid last week:

  • Disappointing apple volumes had been hurting prices in Grand Rapids but rates there improved last week. The average Grand Rapids-Madison rate rose 29 cents to an average of $2.75/mile.
  • Chicago-Kansas City improved by 19 cents to $2.21/mile.
  • Sacramento averaged $2.39/mile outbound, up 10 cents. Sacramento-Denver surged another 24 cents to $2.35/mile.
  • Elizabeth, N.J.-Boston was down 17 cents to $3.37/mile. That might sound high but tolls and traffic can erode your margin. Plus it’s hard to find a load out of Boston.

Diesel prices: The national average price of diesel was $2.40/gallon, down 1 cent from the previous week.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Get the latest rate trends at DAT.com/Trendlines or join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards. Look for more information about load availability and rates at OOIDA’s MyMembersEdge.com, and listen in each Wednesday to Land Line Now for more talk about where to find profitable freight.

 

Freight tonnage in July reaches all-time high thanks to trucking and rail

Official freight numbers for July are in. The index, which measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles, reveals freight was down for all modes except rail carloads and trucking, but the latter two were enough to raise the overall index to an all-time high.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Freight Transportation Services Index for July increased by 1.6 percent to 124.6. July’s TSI replaced the former all-time high of 123.6 set in December 2014.

The July index is 31.6 percent above the low set during the recession in June 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

Trucking freight went up relatively sharply to 141.1 from 136.9, an increase of more than 3 percent. However, numbers from the American Trucking Associations reveal a tonnage decrease of 2.1 percent in July to 134.3 from 137.1 in June. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys of its membership.

According to the DOT, TSI’s growth lines up with monthly increases in the mining, utility and manufacturing sectors. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index rose 0.7 percent in June.

July’s freight TSI increase is the fourth consecutive monthly increase, the first time to happen since December 2014, which perhaps not coincidentally was the previous all-time high. The index grew by 4 percent from March to July, the largest four-month increase since February 2013 when the index went up 5 percent.

 

September proving big for truck shows across the country

As summer begins to wind down, truck shows this month continue to go strong. September shows will span from Oklahoma to New Jersey. Popular gatherings include the Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show and Guilty By Association Truck Show.

Dodge County Fairgrounds in Kasson, Minn., will kick things off this month with the Big Iron Classic Sept. 9-10. According to the website, the Big Iron Classic is “the largest ‘Working Class’ truck show in the Midwest for semi-trucks and trailers and one of the largest contributors of toys to local charities.” In addition to showing off hundreds of trucks, the Big Iron Classic will also collect toys for charity, review new technology, and include a truck pull competition. For more information visit BigIronClassic.com.

Further east on Sept. 10, Denton, Md., will be hosting the Eastern Shore Large Cars show. Plenty of trucks will be on display, but truckers can also take advantage of a Department of Transportation Q&A hosted by BayCom and Wilson Transportation Services. Representatives for the two companies will answer questions regarding regulations, e-logs and other trucking-related issues. Visit Facebook.com/ESLargeCars or email eslc@comcast.net.

The following weekend will feature three truck shows. Starting in Tonkawa, Okla., at Wilkins Oklahoma Truck Supply on Sept. 16-18 is the Wilkins Busted Knuckle Classic. Friday night will get the event started with a convoy through the city followed by a light show. Saturday will be packed with events, including the truck show, prize giveaways and Chad Smith performing live music for the “Party on the Prairie.” Go to Stores.WilkinsChrome.com to find out more.

Truckers farther north can catch the Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show in St. Ignace, Mich., on Sept. 15-18. Light shows, truck show, silent auctions, dunk tanks and more can be experienced at this year’s show. Check out live music from Brian Lorente and The Usual Suspects and attend a meet-and-greet with OOIDA Life Member Alex Debogorski of “Ice Road Truckers.” For more information, including last year’s winners, visit NastShowTrucks.org.

On the East Coast in Englishtown, N.J., the U.S. Diesel Truckin’ Nationals will take place on Sept. 17 at Raceway Park. With gates opening at 9 a.m. and the final event ending at 10 p.m., showgoers will get more than half a day’s worth of entertainment, which includes diesel pickup races, big rig races and a monster truck show. Tickets for adults are $30, and kids under 12 get in for $10. Every ticket is a pit pass. Visit USDieselNationals.com for more details.

Closing out truck shows for the month of September will be the Chrome Shop Mafia at 4 State Trucks in Joplin, Mo., on Sept. 23-24 for the annual Guilty By Association Truck Show. Ending the month with a bang, GBATS will feature fireworks, Big Rig Burnouts, Bounty Hunter Show Truck live demo, live music by Tony Justice, swap meet, Special Olympics Convoy and more. Truckers can also score deals at the on-site store. For more information, go to ChromeShopMafia.com.

 

Trucking industry experiences another monthly job increase in August

Transportation jobs experienced its third monthly gain this year in August, including the fourth increase in trucking jobs.

The overall transportation sector gained nearly 15,000 jobs in August, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the beginning of the year, the transportation and warehousing sector has a net loss of nearly 3,000 jobs, down from more than 17,000 in July.

The truck transportation subsector experienced an increase of approximately 3,400 jobs in August after the industry gained 1,700 in July and lost 6,300 in June. Year-to-date, the trucking subsector has a net loss of 4,400 jobs. August’s gain was the largest monthly increase since last December when the trucking subsector gained 5,300 jobs.

Warehousing and storage subsector experienced the largest increase with 4,300 jobs added to the economy, followed by couriers and messengers with 4,000 more jobs. “Support activities for transportation” and water transport were the only subsectors to lose jobs, with a total loss of 1,200 jobs between the two.

Last year, the trucking industry suffered a loss in only two out of 12 months. Nearly 7,000 trucking jobs were eliminated last March and 4,000 eliminated in September. May’s increase of nearly 9,000 jobs was the largest in 2015 for the trucking subsector.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $23.50 for August – a 13-cent increase from July. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees increased 12 cents to $21.20. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $25.73, 3 cents higher from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.4 percent.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material moving occupations is up to 7.1 percent from 6.3 percent last August. The overall unemployment rate for the country was little changed at 4.9 percent for the third consecutive month. Over the past five years, the unemployment rate each month has either declined or gone relatively unchanged. The number of long-term unemployed changed little at 2 million, accounting for approximately one-quarter of the unemployed.

 

Form 2290 deadline is Wednesday, Aug. 31

OOIDA’s Permits and Licensing Department is giving truck owners a heads up: The clock is ticking when it comes to paying that federal highway use tax for heavy vehicles. It’s the $550 fee you pay each year when you file an IRS Form 2290. 

The tax year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30. The balance due shown on the Form 2290 must be paid in full by the due date of the return. For trucks and other taxable vehicles in use during July, the Form 2290 and payment are due on Aug. 31.

Fleets with 25 or more vehicles must pay online with the IRS. Smaller fleets still have the option of paying by mailed check or money order or online. However, at this point, it’s a good idea to e-file in order to guarantee that the form is accepted before the Wednesday, Aug. 31 deadline. 
 
“For a service fee, OOIDA Permits and Licensing Department offers members the convenience and speed of filing the Form 2290s online,” says Cathy Koncilia of OOIDA’s Business Services Department. “Or you can e-file yourself online at ooida2290.com.”

State governments are required to receive proof of payment of the federal heavy-vehicle use tax as a condition of vehicle registration. In general, the federal heavy-vehicle use tax applies to trucks, truck tractors and buses with a gross taxable weight of 55,000 pounds or more.

 

First day at GATS a good one for the St. Christopher Fund

The St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund received $105,000 from Blue Tiger USA and TA Petro Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.
 
This year, TravelCenters of America, operator of TA and Petro Stopping Centers, teamed up with Blue Tiger USA for a fundraiser promotion. The fundraiser directed $10 from every Blue Tiger Bluetooth Elite headset sold at TravelCenter locations to the SCF. The results far exceeded the original goal. On Thursday afternoon, Blue Tiger President Fieras Saah and Vice President of Marketing Tyler Gillespie presented a check for $105,000 to the St. Christopher Fund.

“Professional drivers directly support the United States economy, and it’s really amazing what the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund has done to support them. TravelCenters of America stepped in to help support this organization without any hesitation. We could not be more proud to partner with TA and Petro Stopping Centers to give back to some of the hardworking people who keep America running,” said Saah.

Tom Liutkus, president of the board of directors of the St. Christopher Fund, accepted the contribution, along with several other board directors and executives.

Liutkus is vice president of marketing and public relations for TA Petro, which has a long history of being a major supporter of the St. Christopher Fund. Since 2010, TA’s “Band Together for SCF” annual campaigns and other fundraisers have generated more than $1.7 million in donations to help with financial support when drivers are off the road due to medical issues.

On Thursday afternoon, Luitkus also accepted a $100,000 donation from the National Association of Independent Truckers, a group that has been a strong supporter of the St. Christopher Fund.

 

Love’s Travel Stops donates $25,000 to Louisiana flood relief efforts

After floods in Louisiana claimed at least 10 lives and damaged tens of thousands of homes, Love’s Travel Stops has stepped up the plate with a helping hand. Love’s recently donated $25,000 to the Salvation Army for relief efforts.

Many Love’s employees and customers were affected by the historic flooding in Louisiana. As pointed out in a blog posted by Love’s, an employee at the Port Allen location had family in the affected area. Port Allen received approximately two feet of rain within three days.

Love’s in Duson was under curfew and nearby Interstate 10 was shut down for a period of time. At least two Love’s employees lost their homes.

Canteens from The Salvation Army are going out each day in affected communities to help anyone who needs a hot meal, something to drink or somebody to talk to. The Salvation Army has prepared more than 78,000 meals, 87,700 drinks, 15,600 snacks, 9,300 food boxes, 8,100 clean-up kits and 8,000 comfort kits for those in need so far.

 

U.S. DOT: Truck freight in June down year-to-date

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in June trucks moved more than 65 percent of all the international freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. Air freight was the only mode to experience an increase year-to-date.

The value of freight hauled across the borders increased by more than 3 percent compared with May when freight was down less than 1 percent from the previous month. June marks the first increase after two consecutive decreases in April and May.

Compared to June 2015, freight was down 6.4 percent. Year-to-year, NAFTA freight was down every month in 2015.

Trucks were responsible for more than $60 billion of the $92.7 billion of imports and exports in June. Rail came in second with more than $14 billion. 

Vessel and pipeline freight when compared with last year contributed to the yearly decline in U.S.-NAFTA trade flow because of plummeting crude oil prices, according to BTS. Freight totaled $92.671 billion, up nearly $2 billion from the previous month and down more than $6 billion from June 2015.

Vessel freight experienced the steepest decline at 19.7 percent, a smaller drop than May’s 30.7 percent decrease. Trucks had a 5.8 percent decrease, the second lowest decline next to rail at 4.4 percent.
 
More than 60 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 15.8 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went down by 5.5 percent compared with June 2015. Of the $44.5 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried 70.8 percent of the loads.

 

Bestpass launches two new departments addressing owner-operator needs

Bestpass recently announced two new departments in its operation. An Owner-Operator Customer Service team and a Fulfillment Center will now be available at the single-source toll payment company.

Focusing on the needs of owner-operators, the Owner-Operator Customer Service team will include staff from the sales, customer service and finance teams. The collaboration service will provide continuous support from the moment of signing up.

The Fulfillment Center will primarily address all matters dealing with the transponders. Services include transponder inventory; shipping and handling; and associated account fulfillment processes, including the strategic deployment plans that Bestpass develops for its fleet customers.

Bestpass currently holds 3,400 accounts with more than 230,000 active transponders. For more information, visit Bestpass.com.

 

Navistar recalls nearly 4,000 ProStars over faulty fuse terminals

Navistar is recalling nearly 4,000 2014-2017 International ProStar trucks, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents. Affected trucks have an electrical issue with the battery fuse terminals.

ProStars manufactured from June 11, 2013, to May 19, 2016, may have an issue with fuse terminals. According to NHTSA, “the battery mounted cube fuse terminal connection on certain ProStar model trucks built with the battery box mounted between the frame rails may possibly break resulting in loss of power to the cab.” 

Vibrations at the battery cable and terminal interface are the likely cause of the cube fuse terminal failure. Cab lights may flicker or gauges may become erratic before cube fuse failure.

The recall was first discovered in March with several more reports received by May. Navistar officially declared the recall in July 18, and it was recently made official by NHTSA. Affected trucks will have the cube fuse replaced with a chassis-mounted power distribution module (PDM) inside the battery box. PDMs are not subject to the same vibrations.

Customers affected by the recall should be receiving a letter from Navistar around Sept. 16. Owners can contact NHTSA at 888-327-4236 or visit SaferCar.gov.

 

 

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