FTR: Hours rule delay postpones ‘crisis’

Trucking is experiencing a normal recovery from the recession and should be able to impose rate increases of 6-8 percent, including fuel, in 2012, economist Noel Perry said at an FTR Associates online seminar Dec. 8.

Trucking will not be able to restore quickly the driver and truck capacity it lost during the recession, said Perry, an FTR senior consultant.

He said the “capacity crisis” he forecast for this year will be pushed back to next year because of the delay in revising the hours of service rule, which is expected to restrict productivity. By late 2012, the industry likely will be dealing with that impact and the effects of slow economic recovery.

Perry said only now is the industry recovering from the recession. Freight transportation is growing almost as fast as the gross domestic product and has recovered about 41 percent of tonnage hauled before the recession. He doesn’t expect a complete recovery until the end of this decade, perhaps sooner. He’s forecasting economic growth of 2.5 percent to 3 percent next year.

One growing niche is in serving those doing hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil wells. Trucks haul water and sand to these often remote exploration sites. “Short-term it’s a big bonanza for trucking,” Perry said. 

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