The latest Transport Capital Partners (TCP) business expectations survey finds a shift in attitudes within the trucking industry as more carriers see their optimism accompanied by rising freight volumes and more stable rate growth.
Echoing sentiments expressed by Ontario trucking companies last month, fleets surveyed by TCP continue to feel buoyant over freight growth and pricing.
“While still off its peak of 92% in February 2011, carrier confidence that volumes will increase over the following 12 months has risen in the last 2 years, from a low of 45% to 76% today, as plans are laid by the industry for 2015,” noted TCP partners, Richard Mikes and Lana Batts, authors of the report.
Trucking company executives were also asked the simple question, “Is trucking starting to be fun again?” Just over 55% of carriers said, “Some days.” And one-third gave a resounding, “Yes!”
Clearly, says TCP, attitudes have begun to change within the trucking industry.
Following from expectations of increased volumes, 86% of carriers surveyed also expect rates to increase over the next 12 months. This continues a trend started in November 2012. TCP partner, Steven Dutro observed, “carriers are looking ahead to a positive year, though tempered by the continuing challenges of drivers, cost pressures, and HOS.”
However, the important question is whether this carrier optimism has actually translated into higher rates. TCP concludes that it is. With 1- to 2-year economic growth projections up modestly and capacity very tight, carriers are now seeing counter-seasonal freight rate increases. “Carriers are entering the annual first quarter ‘bid season’ with a strong tailwind,” says Mikes.
Two key points clearly illustrate this return to confidence – the number of carriers seeing rate increases is seven times the number seeing rates remain the same; and the percentage of carriers who experienced rate increases jumped almost 50%.