Each month, we review freight transportation trends to help predict what may happen in the transportation industry in future months.
The American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted truck tonnage index was up 5% month over month in August 2016 following July’s 2% month-over-month decline. Year over year, the truck tonnage was up 5.2% in August following July’s slight 0.3% increase. Year to date, tonnage is up 3.5% compared to the same period in 2015.
Dry van rates through early September were $1.74 per mile based on a four-week rolling average, which is essentially flat year over year. The year-over-year stabilization is due to the rate drop 15 months ago and stabilizing fuel prices.
Flatbed rates were $1.79 per mile on a trailing four-week basis through late September 2016. This rate is down 9.3% year over year. Weak industrial demand, more available capacity and lower fuel surcharges have contributed to the decline in rates compared to last year.
Global Containerized Ocean Traffic
During September 2016, inbound containerized ocean volumes at all U.S. ports fell 3.5% year over year. Full year volumes to date are up 2.3% year over year. In 2015, the volumes were up 3.9%. Container growth for the full year of 2016 is expected to be modest overall.
Eastbound trans-Pacific ocean container spot rates between Hong Kong and the U.S. West Coast remained elevated in September 2016.
Ship charter leases remain depressed because the market is oversupplied in ocean capacity. Since 2008, capacity has grown 40%, but demand has only increased 20%. Capacity is expected to continue to grow in excess of demand through the rest of 2016.
CSX reported 2016’s third quarter volumes down 8.7% year over year. NSC reported carloads down 4.2% year over year for the third quarter. Rail volumes have been negatively impacted by declining metals, stone, petroleum and coal volumes this quarter.
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