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JOC Guide to Trucking, August 2018

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August 2018 | The Journal of Commerce 7 www.joc.com 2018 JOC Guide to Trucking Cover Story To Regan, that reset means the age of cheap surface transportation is over. An era that began with dereg- ulation of airlines in 1978 and then rail and trucking in 1980 is closing as technology gives even lone truckers tools needed to cost and price their services to the half-penny. Cheap transportation and so- called free shipping helped create the modern US economy. "Why are apples that grow in Pennsylvania, miles from my house, getting trucked across the country, while I'm getting apples from Washington state? Cheap transportation," Jindel said. Transportation was relatively cheap in part because motor carriers often did not know their true costs, and were unable to raise pricing sub- stantially except in boom markets like 2004-2005, and then only until the economy declined and the mar- ket turned, as it did in 2006-2009. That was then. Rapid develop- ment of technology is changing the trucking market, putting business management and pricing tools in the hands of large and small carriers alike. Just note the proliferation of digital marketplaces targeting truck drivers with mobile applications. "The quality of information carriers and the tools they have today are light years ahead of where they were 14 years go," Regan said. "The value of a carrier's assets can be much better assessed and priced than 14 years ago. The players are better prepared to play the game." The e-commerce factor Compared to 14 years ago, the US economy is bigger, trucking is bigger, and e-commerce is a much bigger factor in both. Third-party logistics providers play a much bigger role in shipper supply chains and trucking, representing about 25 percent of less-than-truckload revenue. Shippers faced a broader set of supply chain challenges today than 14 years ago, but they also have more opportunities to try out di erent logistics and multimodal options. For one, intermodal rail plays a big- ger role in the surface transportation market than it did in 2004-2005. Within trucking, the number of companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue has doubled since 2003, and in the US now stands at 25 carriers. While trucking is still a fragmented business with hundreds of thousands of small companies, the biggest carriers are, well, bigger. Trucks moved 9.1 billion tons of freight in 2003. By 2017, that fi gure topped 10.4 billion tons, according to the American Trucking Associations. And, despite the driver shortage, there are more truckers today than ever: 1,748,140 US tractor-trailer TIGHT AS A DRUM With peak season here and driver seats empty, the growing economy and e-commerce are taxing the US supply chain By William B. Cassidy The number of trucking companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

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