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BIZ BUZZ: Spring’s the season to get ‘bizy’ — write when you get work

February load volume rose by 38 percent compared to the previous month and by 65 percent compared to February 2010. (The Trucker file photo)

By KEVIN JONES
The Trucker Staff

4/21/2011

Spring is in the air, and there’s going to be freight on the docks, if the freight and rate improvements seen this winter are any indication.

TransCore’s North American Freight Index marked the highest spot market truckload freight volume for the month of February since the company established the index in 1986, TransCore says. January’s freight volume set a similar record.

February load volume rose by 38 percent compared to the previous month and by 65 percent compared to February 2010.

The surge was led by a 44 percent increase in freight designated for flatbed trucks, compared to January. Of course, the beginning of construction season accounts for some of that — but at least there’s finally some activity.

Dry van freight availability increased by 38 percent, while refrigerated loads were up by 30 percent month-over-month.

Once again, capacity declined in February, down 14 percent month over month, so there are fewer trucks competing for the loads.

Compared to the year before capacity was 15 percent lower which, combined with the growth in loads, almost doubled the load-to-truck ratio (a 94 percent increase) year over year, according to TransCore’s numbers.

As for spot market rates, vans (up 4 percent, or about a nickel per mile) and flatbeds (up 3.8 percent, or 6 cents per mile) rebounded while reefer rates (down 1.4 percent, a couple of pennies) fell in February compared to January.

And, as industry pricing analyst Mark Montague wrote in his truckload rate report, dry van broker rates topped contract rates in 20 percent of major lanes with a 250-mile or more haul. Montague attributed some of that to pent up demand following the January winter weather problems, but he also suggested market conditions in February “look surprisingly similar” to last June when brokered loads commanded a premium in a third of the major truckload lanes.

National average rates tend to mask strong regional trends, TransCore noted.

Which brings Biz Buzz to a bit of self-promotion.

Beginning in the April 15 issue of The Trucker, we started Regional Rewind, a business news feature aimed at helping drivers understand better where the action is, and why — or why not.

Of course, truckers know better than anyone else what’s moving: You’re doing the hauling. But for those looking for opportunities, Regional Rewind will be a resource.

And speaking of truckers knowing better than anyone else, Biz Buzz can always use your help. You’re on the road, we’re not — tell us what you see, what you hear, what you think.

The Facebook page for The Trucker features discussion of industry happenings among a few thousand of our closest trucker friends. Join the conversation. There’s a link at the bottom of every story on www.TheTrucker.com, or type “The-Trucker” in the Facebook search box.

Or, as always, feel free to e-mail, and we’ve been known to answer the phone: (800) 666-2770.   

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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