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April 2 2018

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April 2 2018 | The Journal of Commerce 39 Surface Transportation February that it is up-charging some shippers in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Seattle this winter. One shipper said the higher fees range between $150 and $600, although Hub said there is not any minimum or maximum rate. Schnei- der National and Covenant Trans- port also are assessing fees on excess business to cover their additional costs to reposition equipment from nearby cities or states. Regularly ten- dered freight isn't subject to these upcharges, only freight not covered in the shipper-carrier contract. For the past two years, business conditions favored shippers as con- tract rates remained low and drivers bid against each other to move the sparse freight available on the spot market. Freight demand began to improve steadily in the second half of 2017, when trucks weren't as easy to find. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in August and September drove a new pipeline of disaster relief shipments MULTIPLE TOP NATIONAL truckload companies are levying surcharges or rejecting freight because of the overwhelming demand in the typical slow season, frustrating shippers looking for additional capacity. This also has trucking officials warning of an even sharper crunch when produce season picks up in April and retailers stock up for the summer and early autumn. Trucking companies are busy in the third and fourth quarters when retailers stock the shelves for the holidays and in the spring when growers sell fruits and vegetables and stores begin to stock up on bar- becues, lawn care products, outdoor items, and, eventually, back-to- school items. Demand in between those periods typically tapers off, but that is not the case this year. As a result, motor carriers are struggling to find the trucks needed to satisfy their shippers asking for more service. Hub Group acknowledged in and long-term reconstruction supplies. The new business opportu- nities flushed excess capacity from other US markets months ahead of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate in December. With the new federal regula- tions requiring strict adherence to hours of service because of ELD monitoring, drivers are unable to be as productive each day as they were with paper logs. Rates have climbed as shippers vie to book appointment windows in these tight schedules. Drivers upset with the new federal intervention into their lives may leave the industry after hard en- forcement begins on April 1, further exacerbating the supply shortage. "A year ago, the freight wasn't there. Today, we may be pulling a truck away from someone who has freight nearby," Jason Rice, director of customer service with Covenant Transport, told The Journal of Com- merce. Covenant offers long-haul dry-van and temperature-controlled trucking through its brand and subsidiaries Southern Refrigerated Transport and Star Transportation. Repositioning fees or similar sur- charges are unusual between January and the beginning of produce season in early April unless there is a weather emergency. This year, however, freight demand is outpacing the supply of trucks, according to industry officials. "I've been in the trucking industry since 1980, and I've never seen the balance being this out of whack," said Dave Rusch, CEO of truckload carrier CRST International. "In our flatbed US truck shippers feeling the pinch Carriers are levying surcharges and turning down freight as capacity and drivers lag growing demand By Ari Ashe Schneider National is assessing surcharges on excess business to cover additional costs of repositioning equipment. Trucking | Rail | Intermodal | Air & Expedited | Distribution

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