The just-released FTR Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for February reflects a progressively improved outlook for trucking with another month-over-month increase of 2-plus points to a reading of 12.9. As reported in the April 2013 Trucking Update, the upward movement of the index shows signs of positive momentum in the trucking industry.
The TCI is designed to summarize a full collection of industry metrics, with a reading above zero indicating a positive environment for truckers. Readings above 10 — such as those being recorded now — signal that volumes, prices, and margins are likely to be in a solidly favorable range for trucking companies.
Regulations that can affect the hauling capacity of fleets along with improving freight will tighten capacity allowing truckers to push rates higher. That includes an anticipation that there will be no delay in the July implementation of the revised Hours of Service (HOS) rules. The TCI upward movement is expected to peak during the summer but remain strongly positive for some time.
In fact, most indicators through the early months of this year have been positive for the trucking industry, according to Jonathan Starks, director of transportation analysis for FTR. He said in a press release that the exception would be truck freight rates, which have been stable but demonstrate little growth since early of last year.
Starks said he expects that situation to change once the new HOS rules go into effect in midsummer, adding trucking industry capacity and demand for truck freight services are currently very close, a factor that could spark a supply shortage beneficial to truckers and fleets.