Trucking still poised for growth

Trucking still poised for growth

Two separate studies find that commercial trucks are carrying a larger share of tonnage and earning more freight-related revenues as well in the U.S.

Two separate studies find that commercial trucks are carrying a larger share of tonnage and earning more freight-related revenues as well in the U.S.--and are projected to keep doing so over the next decade.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total revenue for truck transportation, couriers and messengers, and warehousing and storage reached $312 billion in 2006, up from $293 billion in 2005. U.S. commercial trucks traveled 91 billion miles last year, with motor carriers generating revenues of $204 billion, with long-distance trucking earning $136.1 billion and the remaining $67.9 billion from local trucking services.

The Bureau’s 2006 Truck Transportation, Couriers and Messengers, and Warehousing and Storage survey also found that trucking within U.S. borders accounted for 96%, or $196 billion, of motor carrier revenue in 2006. Revenue generated from truck transportation with Canada, Mexico and all other destinations totaled $8 billion.

The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) “U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2018” study reports that the trucking industry’s total tonnage share will rise from 69% in 2006 to 69.7% in 2012 and to 70% by 2018.

The Forecast, produced for ATA by consulting firm Global Insight, also projects robust growth in rail intermodal and air freight. Total rail tonnage, including carloads and intermodal units, will edge up slightly to 14.7% of domestic tonnage in 2018 from 14.6% in 2006.

A wide variety of goods are driving truck freight growth, the Census Bureau said, with new furniture and miscellaneous manufactured products, agricultural and fish products, wood products, base metal and machinery, and textiles and leathers among the largest categories responsible for the dollar volume of truck shipments.

General freight trucking, which handles commodities transported on pallets in a container or van trailer, contributed two-thirds of all trucking revenues (some $147 billion) last year. Trucks transporting specialized freight – using flatbeds, tankers or refrigerated trailers – accounted for $73 billion, according to the Bureau’s data.

The agency also found local general freight trucking revenues, which come from carrying goods within a single metropolitan area and its adjacent non-urban area, grew 12.3% to $25 billion in 2006, while long-distance general freight revenues increased more slowly at 4.3% to $122 billion.

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