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



FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index remained negative in April at a reading of -1.95, up from -7.25 in March, FTR officials announced on June 13. Both freight rates and financing costs were less negative, and freight volume improved, they said. Added Avery Vise, FTR vice president of trucking: “Better days are in sight for trucking companies, but the market still needs to work through the tough combination of too much capacity and sluggish freight demand."



"In May 2024, U.S. carloads excluding coal were up 0.3% (2,259 carloads) over May 2023. Year-to-date carloads were up 0.4% (15,144) over last year and up 0.9% (30,777 carloads) over 2022." — Association of American Railroads' Rail Time Indicators, issued June 7



The expenditures component of the Cass Freight Index, which measures the total amount spent on freight, was up 1.9% month over month in May, Cass Information Systems Inc. announced on June 17. The 9% year-over-year decline narrowed from down 17% in April, Cass officials said. The expenditures component fell 19% in 2023, after a record 38% surge in 2021 and another 23% increase in 2022. "It is set to decline about 16% in 1H’24, assuming normal seasonal patterns from here, and 10% for the full year," Cass officials said. 


3 & 18

The Port of Los Angeles processed 752,893 TEUs in May, a 3% percent decline from May 2023's total, but overall cargo volume was 18% ahead of 2023's first five months, the port announced on June 12. May's loaded imports landed at 390,663 TEUs, a 4.5% decline compared with the same 2023 period. The port processed 236,268 empty containers last month, a 12% decrease compared with May 2023's total.



"New light vehicle sales were an annualized and seasonally adjusted 15.9 million in May 2024, the highest they’ve been so far this year and one of the best sales months in the past three years. Year-to-date sales in the first five months of 2024 were 6.48 million vehicles, up 3.2% over last year and the most since 2021." — Association of American Railroads' Rail Time Indicators, issued June 7



U.S. intermodal volume in May 2024 was up 7.6% (90,744 containers and trailers) over May 2023, its ninth straight gain. Year-to-date intermodal volume through May was 5.57 million units, up 8.7% (443,453 units) over last year but down 3.1% (180,434 units) from 2022." — Association of American Railroads' Rail Time Indicators, issued June 7


On June 18, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released new research identifying approaches to increase the number of women truck drivers entering and staying in the industry. In addition to quantifying six key challenge areas facing women truck drivers, the research lays out an action plan for the industry — "with discrete steps for motor carriers, truck driver training schools and truck drivers" designed to "make trucking careers more attractive to women," according to ATRI. Among the findings: Carriers that implement women-specific recruiting and retention initiatives have a higher percentage of women drivers (8.1%) than those without (5.0%), according to the survey.



"While loose truckload markets have been a headwind for intermodal conversion, mean reversion in longer haul freight moves still represents a significant long-term volume growth opportunity. [Schneider National Inc.'s] existing intermodal capacity should facilitate 20%+ growth without a need for significant capital investment. SNDR has premier intermodal rail partners with UNP out West, CSX in the East, and CPKC for cross-border Mexican access. Importantly, management is optimistic rail service will be durable, and higher container rates should incentivize more transloading activity, which should translate into more domestic intermodal volume growth." — Baird Equity Research’s Garrett Holland in a June 17 report titled "Baird/SNDR/Holland: Highlights from Management Meetings: Well Positioned for a Turn"



"Year-to-date rail carloads through the end of April totaled 3.63 million, down 4.8% from last year. ... Excluding coal, however, total carloads are up 2% over April 2023, and have risen year over year in each of the last three months. ... Coal accounted for 21.8% of non-intermodal U.S. rail volume in April, coal’s smallest share for any month as reported by the AAR Policy and Economics Department." — June 10 newsletter from RESIDCO titled “This Summer — Opportunities for Aero and Railcar Investment.” RESIDCO is a transportation equipment lessor and asset management company that operates and manages a freight-car and locomotive fleet.



"Not many people saw this coming. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on June 7 that a preliminary 272,000 net new jobs were created in May 2024. That’s far more than most economists expected and up from 165,000 in April 2024. ... The big jobs gain is contrary to some other recent economic indicators that seem to be pointing to a slowing economy." — Association of American Railroads' Rail Time Indicators, issued June 7


13 million

Descartes Systems Group acquired BoxTop Technologies Ltd. for $13 million, Descartes announced on June 11. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada-based Descartes provides on-demand, software-as-a-service solutions for logistics businesses; U.K.-based BoxTop Technologies is a provider of shipment management solutions for small to midsize logistics services providers.