Monday, July 22, 2024

Trucker Path names best major trucking corridors in US

Trucker Path releases Highest-Rated Major US Trucking Corridors results

(Source: Trucker Path)

Trucker Path, a transportation technology company specializing in trip planning for truckers, recently released its annual Highest-Rated Major US Trucking Corridors map for 2023. The three categories that made up the ratings scale included parking availability, truck stop ratings and fuel prices.

Highest-rated was the Interstate 90 corridor, which bisects the top half of the U.S. It begins in Boston then stretches through the Great Lakes and upper Great Plains regions before crossing the Rocky Mountains and ending in Seattle. It had a rating of 93.5, The Interstate 5 corridor, which runs the length of the Western edge of the U.S. through California, Oregon and Washington, came in second at 92.97 points. In third with 92.72 points was the Interstate 44 corridor, which begins in Wichita Falls, Texas, and runs through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri before ending in St. Louis.

Availability of truck parking remains a top issue for drivers, and Trucker Path noted this weighed more heavily in its calculations when it created the list. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association estimates that there is only one parking spot for every 11 trucks on the road. A 2016 study from the American Transportation Research Institute reported the average driver spends around 56 minutes per day looking for parking.

The debate has received additional attention with FreightTech companies like Truck Parking Club attempting to encourage private locations to offer paid truck parking. Another challenge is the lack of publicly available truck parking, with around 87% of all truck parking at private truck stops.

During a December 2020 Department of Transportation presentation on truck parking, a report concluded that not only do major problems exist in each state and region, but that truck stop operators need a business model that includes parking profitability. Interestingly, the I-90 corridor and California were states reported by drivers as significant challenges for parking, according to the 2020 DOT report.

It appears that recent efforts by state governments and private entities may have had an impact in lessening some of the chronic shortages in that area, or the aggregate locations along the I-90 corridor outweigh the bottlenecks around the Chicago and Great Lakes regions.

Proposed New York City trucker congestion toll on ‘indefinite’ hold

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Proposed congestion fees levied on truckers and other motorists entering Manhattan have been placed on indefinite hold following pushback from trucking advocacy groups including the Trucking Association of New York, which filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of New York last Thursday.

Regarding the original plan, FreightWaves’ Brinley Hineman wrote that heavy-duty trucks would have paid $24 to $36 during peak hours when they traveled below 60th Street. Taxis and for-hire vehicles, such as Lyft, would have faced $1.25 to $2.50 levies per trip, paid for by the passenger. “The trucking association argues that taxis and for-hire vehicles make up half of traffic in the area, but those drivers will be exempt from fees, instead pushing the cost onto the customer,” Hineman noted.

The congestion pricing, labeled the first of its kind in the nation, was announced in June 2023 with the goal of improving air quality and reducing traffic. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a release at the time, “I am proud of the thorough Environmental Assessment process we conducted, including responding to thousands of comments from community members from across the region. With the green light from the federal government, we look forward to moving ahead with the implementation of this program.”

Despite the support, pushback from trade and advocacy groups appear to have won the day. In a sharp reversal, Hochul halted the plan’s implementation Wednesday and delivered remarks in a video statement. She said in the video, “I have come to the difficult decision that implementing the planned congestion pricing system risks too many unintended consequences for New Yorkers at this time,” adding, “I have directed the [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] to indefinitely pause the program.”

Despite the cancellation of this proposed fee, there remains a toll levied on trucks that use New York City bridges and tunnels.

Market update: Preliminary Class 8 net orders exceed expectations in May

On Wednesday, ACT Researched released its May preliminary Class 8 orders numbers, which reported 23,200 units, an increase of 46% month over month and 49% year over year. The report notes the final order numbers will be released in mid-June. Steve Tam, vice president and analyst at ACT, said in the report, “Market observers may recall that demand typically slows in Q2. However, surprises are always lurking. Class 8 preliminary order intake provided May’s drama, effectively zigging when they were expected to zag.”

Rival transportation intelligence provider FTR Transportation intelligence reported a smaller bump in initial May Class 8 orders at 18,900 units. This was an increase of 25% m/m and 37% y/y. The report was less impressed, adding, “This level of orders is above recent demand trends and 2% above the average for the month of May over the past decade. The levels seen this month further abate worries of any rapid demand decline, and the market is performing moderately above replacement level for orders.”

ACT Research believes OEM activity may be one of the reasons behind the orders boost. Tam added, “Ample open build slots in Q3 and Q4, combined with the OEMs’ desire to achieve some semblance of balance with respect to the impending prebuy likely impacted May’s order activity. While we do not have complete visibility at this point, the strength is presumably driven by private and vocational fleets, supplemented by an ongoing healthy appetite for equipment in Mexico.”

FreightWaves SONAR spotlight: (Supply) chain of fuels

(Source: FreightWaves SONAR)

Summary: Prices of West Texas Intermediate crude oil, a domestic benchmark, tumbled this week to their lowest level since early February. To say that such a decline is not usually seen at the beginning of summer is an understatement. Nevertheless, this response by the market is only natural: OPEC+ announced on Sunday that it would begin to unwind some of its members’ — notably, Saudi Arabia’s, Russia’s and the United Arab Emirates’ — voluntary production cuts by October. By that time, an additional 2.2 million barrels per day of crude will have come back on the market, putting further downward pressure on future prices.

Accordingly, the oil market has slipped into severe backwardation, which occurs when current prices are higher than future ones. Backwardation is often an unnatural state of affairs since — as anyone who’s opened their wallet in the past two years knows well — things tend to get more expensive over time. Backwardation is especially alarming when it is seen at a time when current prices are already so low.

OPEC has been in a difficult situation for a while now: It has tried (mostly in vain) to elevate oil prices while global demand for oil is slowing and demand for American oil, the production of which is near all-time highs, has eaten into its market share. Some of its members, especially the UAE, have bristled at OPEC’s failed strategy of withholding oil from the market to artificially boost prices. Thus, OPEC arguably had no choice but to reverse its current course and unleash more supply onto the market, lest it face a mutiny from its members.

What does this mean for truckers and the domestic freight economy? For one, prices of diesel and gasoline should be coming down in the near future, although they lag behind oil prices by a few months. But the long-term view of the domestic oil industry as a supplier of freight demand is somewhat in jeopardy. Thanks to technological gains in efficiency, U.S. producers have been drilling more oil with fewer rigs for years now. If oil prices continue to fall, producers simply will not have the appetite to ramp up their operations going forward — unless they receive federal incentives of some kind, a likely talking point for the 2024 presidential election.

The Routing Guide: Links from around the web

DAT vs. SONAR debate examines where freight market is headed (FreightWaves)

Transfix sells brokerage unit to NFI (FreightWaves)

Love’s cuts some services but boosts training opportunities in tight job market (FreightWaves)

ANALYSIS: ATA’s Chris Spear earns $1.9M, but where are his results? (FreightWaves)

New trucking survey finds many drivers are looking for new opportunities (The Trucker)
Why the trucking industry should celebrate paid truck parking (FreightWaves)

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