Tallies, totals and other trend data in the freight transportation realm



The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.3% in November after rising 0.4% in October, ATA officials said on Dec. 21. In November, the index equaled 114.5 (2015=100) compared with 113 in October. “November’s gain was the fourth straight, totaling 4.3%, and the tonnage level was the highest since April,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The recent streak is very good, but it should be noted that from April through July the index fell a total of 4.6%, so we are not quite back to where we were last spring. With that said, the index saw the largest gain from a year earlier since May. In November, strong factory output and housing starts helped push the index higher."


The expenditures component of the Cass Freight Index, which measures the total amount spent on freight, rose to a new record level of 4.275, up 44% year over year in November and 8% month over month, Cass Information Systems reported on Dec. 14. On a seasonally adjusted basis, expenditures rose 10.2% month over month in November, “mostly due to higher rates, and to a lesser degree from higher volumes,” Cass officials said. “On a two-year stacked basis, the Cass expenditures index was up 52% in October, mostly explained by higher rates. Assuming “normal seasonality” in December, the full-year increase will be 37% in 2021, after a 7% decline in 2020 and no change in 2019, they said.


FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) measure for October fell to a reading of 7.75, the weakest reading since July 2020, “because of a surge in diesel prices,” FTR officials said on Dec. 13. Had fuel prices been a neutral factor, the change from September’s 11.79 reading “would have been negligible,” they said. Fuel costs have now stabilized, and the TCI outlook is for “solidly positive readings” well into 2022, FTR officials said. “October was an outlier due to the brief surge in diesel prices, but conditions in 2022 are unlikely to be quite as robust for carriers as they are today,” said FTR vice president of trucking Avery Vise. “We expect slower growth in freight volume and a slight easing of capacity utilization resulting in a gradual stabilization of freight rates at an elevated level. Even so, market conditions should favor carriers at least into 2023.”


On Dec. 21, the Northwest Seaport Alliance announced that the ports of Seattle and Tacoma handled 325,604 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in November, a 7.8% year-over-year increase compared with November 2020’s total. Full imports grew 7.5%, while full exports decreased 18.4%. Year-to-date volumes improved 15.4% to 3,482,104 TEUs, with full imports growing 20.9% and full exports declining 10.5%. The Northwest Seaport Alliance is a marine cargo operating partnership of the two ports. 


The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index (MLFI-25) showed equipment finance companies’ overall new business volume for November was $7.9 billion, up 8% percent year-over-year from new business volume in November 2020. Volume was down 26% month-to-month from $10.7 billion in October. Year-to-date, cumulative new business volume was up 10% compared to 2020. “Supply chain disruptions continue to plague an otherwise strong economy, creating inflationary pressures that are a concern for many Americans,” ELFA President and CEO Ralph Petta said on Dec. 22. “With the Federal Reserve recently announcing an accelerated tapering of asset purchases as well as several planned interest rate hikes in 2022, the hope is that the Fed does not choke off the recovery in its efforts to control further inflation.”


After plateauing in September, the Container xChange container logistics report shows a “downward trend in average container prices and leasings rates,” Container xChange officials said on Dec. 13. And the “problem of consistent inbound container logjam shows a high burden on ports,” they added. China’s Port of Qingdao experienced the biggest drop in average prices between September and December — more than 23%, or the U.S. equivalent of $1,756, Container xChange officials said. “U.S. prices have gone down by around 15%” from August to December, they added. Among U.S. ports, average container prices (40-foot-high cube and 200-foot dry container) for the most part have stabilized, they said. But “container availability has not improved at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Savannah and Houston, to name a few,” they said.


With more than 25% of U.S. freight rail traffic moving through Chicago, railroads implemented an early warning system to assess real-time data and trigger operational contingency plans such as rerouting traffic. Before winter weather even hits, railroad logistics managers plan alternate routes to keep traffic moving.” — from the Association of American Railroads’ Dec. 21 edition of The Signal


On Dec. 16, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation released the December 2021 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI). Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market was 63.9, a decrease from the November index of 64.6. “The near-term future of the equipment finance industry shows promise for continued expansion,” said survey respondent Daniel J. Krajewski, president and CEO of Sertant Capital LLC. “As infrastructure bills are passed and implemented there will be a demand for many asset classes from construction through IT platforms. This, of course, will need to be supported by increased manufacturing capacity to build all the required capital goods. I do have concerns about the political atmosphere that currently exists in the U.S. that may slow down or even kill the entire infrastructure bill, and secondly, the supply chain issues that have bottlenecked the product delivery system.”


"On Dec. 22, TuSimple completed the first-ever driver-out operations of a commercial Class 8 run on open public roads. Our specially outfitted semi-truck navigated surface streets, highways, traffic signals, on-ramps, off-ramps, unprotected left-hand turns, emergency lane vehicles and lane changes while interacting naturally with other motorists. The 80-mile trip between freight terminals in the Tucson and Phoenix areas was completed in approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. 100% of the 'Driver Out' run was operated by TuSimple's onboard Autonomous Driving System (ADS); completed under real-world conditions without traffic intervention; and accomplished without any human presence on board the vehicle, and no remote human control of the vehicle." — text that accompanies a video capturing the 80-minute driverless run on San Diego-based TuSimple Inc.'s website


Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Bison Transport acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of Bangor, Maine-based Hartt Transportation Systems Inc., Bison and Winnipeg-based James Richardson & Sons Ltd. officials said on Jan. 3. One of the largest truckload carriers based in the northeastern United States, Hartt has 360+ tractors and 2100+ trailers and a "sizeable logistics" offering, Bison officials said. The transaction's financial terms were not disclosed.  

263 million

Schneider, a provider of transportation, intermodal and logistics services, acquired Ohio-based truckload carrier Midwest Logistics Systems (MLS) for $263 million, officials of Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Schneider said on Jan. 4. MLS has over 1,000 professional drivers, operating 900 tractors across 30 central U.S. locations. MLS will run as an independent subsidiary of Schneider. 

1 billion

UPS surpassed the 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered mark “with near-perfect on-time delivery,” the company announced on Dec. 14.

Prime Numbers