Key Transportation Trends

We are constantly analyzing the transportation industry and looking for new and emerging trends. Below are some of the more notable trends in the transportation industry from the past few months.

Domestic Trucking

This April the American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted truck tonnage index was 1% higher year over year. In the first quarter, the tonnage was up 5% compared to the first quarter in 2014. Month over month, in April 2015, the tonnage index was down 3% compared to the 0.5% gain, month over month, in March 2015.

In early June 2015, the dry-van rates in the spot market were just slightly above $2 per mile. Year over year, the spot market demand has been lower; in addition, lower diesel prices have reduced the fuel surcharges.

Also in early June, flatbed rates in the spot market were $2.14 per mile, down 8.5% year over year. The lower fuel surcharges overall have contributed to the decrease in spot rates.

Global Containerized Ocean Traffic

In April the inbound containerized ocean volumes at all United States’ ports rose 4% year over year. In 2014, full year volumes were up 6% compared to 2013. In May the congestion at the West Coast ports began to ease up. The 2014 rates averaged 4% lower than the 2013 rates, which was driven by weaker 2014 pricing.

The ship charter lease rates continued to rise in May 2015, the highest levels they have been since 2011. However, the rates are still significantly lower than the pre-2009 levels due to the surplus capacity. Since 2008 the capacity of the global containerized ocean traffic has grown around 40% and demand has increased 20%. The 2015 capacity alone is estimated to grow 89% year over year and continue to grow into 2016.


Through the beginning of June, several reports have shown that the Q2 volumes, year over year, are down. NSC reported carloads down 1.8% due to weak coal, metal and grain volumes. Volumes have also been negatively impacted by lower grain, sand and gravel volumes.

Take a look at the graphs below for a visual representation of the key trends.

Current TL Rates vs. Same Period Last Year

Current TL Rates vs last year

Dry Van Truckload Index

Dry van truckload

Flatbed Freight Index

Flatbed freight index


Expected Pricing Trends Over Remainder of 2015

expected pricing trends

To learn more about recent transportation industry trends, please contact us.

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