ATRI logo

ATRI research shows dramatic increases in industry costs

The following press release from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) was sent Nov. 4, including a review of their most recent Ops Costs report. A free copy of the full report is available at the ATRI website. (Free registration is required.)

ATRI’s Newest “Operational Costs of Trucking” Research Shows Dramatic Increases in Industry Costs

Arlington, Virginia – The American Transportation Research Institute today released the findings of its 2019 update to “An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking.” Using detailed financial data provided directly by motor carriers of all sectors and fleet sizes, this “Ops Costs” research annually documents and analyzes trucking costs from 2008 through 2018. ATRI’s analysis provides industry stakeholders with an essential benchmarking tool, and government agencies with input on industry finances necessary for comprehensive transportation planning and infrastructure improvement analyses.

ATRI’s newest 2019 Ops Costs report documents the extremely robust economic environment that carriers and drivers experienced in 2018, but these same economic conditions put considerable upward pressure on nearly every line-item cost center experienced by carriers.

The average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers in 2018 increased 7.7 percent to $1.82. Costs rose in every cost center except tires, with fuel costs experiencing the highest year-over-year growth of 17.7 percent. Not surprisingly, insurance costs saw the second fastest year-over-year growth at 12 percent. As a strategic response to the severe driver shortage that existed in 2018, driver wages and benefits increased 7.0 and 4.7 percent, respectively – representing 43 percent of all marginal costs in 2018.

Repair & maintenance (R&M) costs, at 17.1 cents per mile in 2018, have increased 24 percent since 2012 – a counterintuitive increase given the record sales of new trucks and trailers. From 2012 to 2018, overall motor carrier operational costs have increased more than 11.6 percent – exceeding the 10.8 percent inflation rate for that same time period.

ATRI’s 2019 report again includes an “Industry Sector in Focus” analysis for tank fleet operators.

“ATRI’s 2019 Operational Costs research highlights the extent of the cost increases our industry experienced in 2018. Savvy carriers will continue to use this cost data as a benchmarking tool, and to better educate our customers on the financial and operating pressures our industry faces,” said Jerry Sigmon, Executive Vice President of Cargo Transporters, Inc. “The new 2019 report also gives us important explanations and hints on how to better manage the cost volatility we’ve been experiencing.”

Since its original publication in 2008, ATRI has received over 16,000 requests for the Operational Costs reports.

A copy of this report is available from ATRI at

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.

TAM legislative committee meets with T4MA

As the Massachusetts legislature prepares to debate new transportation revenue options, TAM continues to meet key advocacy groups to exchange ideas and educate them about the trucking industry in Massachusetts.

On Friday of last week, members of TAM’s legislative committee met with Chris Dempsey, Director, and Charlie Ticotsky, Policy Director, from Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA), a diverse coalition of more than 70 member and partner organizations. T4MA has been a noted and vocal supporter of initiatives increasing the amount of revenue being directed to our Commonwealth’s entire transportation network – whether road, rail, water, transit or bike path.

The discussion focused on shared interests (i.e. reducing congestion, improving the quality of roads and bridges, reducing emissions, etc.) and shared hopes for additional revenue models. While there was some disagreement over the certain ideas about congestion pricing and vehicle miles tolled, there was a mutual appreciation for the concerns and impacts raised by each organization.

For TAM’s purposes, the meeting provided us with the opportunity to share insights as to what the real impacts certain measures have on trucking, generally, and Massachusetts trucking, specifically.

We look forward to the opportunity of working with groups like T4MA further to create transportation solutions that meet the needs of all transportation system users. Stay tuned for further updates about our transportation financing conversations.

In the meantime, many thanks to T4MA for their willingness to meet. For more information about T4MA, visit their website.

Massachusetts legilsature

Fall legislative update

As the Massachusetts legislature picks up its pace, TAM continues to do the same on the legislative front. At the moment, TAM has been focused on its rolling stock initiative, the transportation finance discussion and the governor’s CDL reform legislation.

On the first item, TAM has begun to broaden our reach to elected officials and non-government organizations that support stronger environmental and public safety initiatives. While rolling stock has a tremendous economic development upside, we have been making a concerted effort to ensure that the initiative receives support from a wide range of interests.

With respect to transportation finance, TAM has been meeting with House and Senate leadership to share TAM’s views on the need for transportation finance and, as importantly, which funding mechanisms will provide for shared responsibility and accountability. As you may know, TAM is a participant in the Massachusetts Business Coalition for Transportation with many of the leading business organizations in the Commonwealth.

Finally, with respect the governor’s CDL reform legislation, TAM continues to await the public hearing on the new filed matter. Currently before the Joint Committee on Transportation, this legislation would have a number of positive public safety impacts, but also may cause a couple unintended consequences. TAM has been reaching out to other impacted industries and associations to ensure they know of both the benefits and potential shortcomings of this legislation.

Stay tuned for more information as the Massachusetts legislature enters the Fall rush of business.

St Jude Charity Challenge fundraising extended to Oct. 31

As many of you know, Fred Schenk of J & S Transport in Lynn, Massachusetts has been the driving force behind the Massachusetts Truck Driving Championships for many years. Many of you might not know though that Fred also runs a Truck Driving Charity Challenge every year. Unfortunately Fred and his group of volunteers were not able to secure a physical location for the event this year.

The Charity Challenge has sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to St Jude during the past 20 years. Even though he is not hosting the physical event this year, the Charity Challenge is sending a donations to St. Jude from drivers, families and contributing companies.

So far, Fred has received more than $8,500 in donations, please help push that number higher. Contributions can be through the N.E. Truck Drivers Charity Challenge donation page.

To make a donation online, click on the link and then click on “Make a Gift”. Enter your amount and follow the prompts.


MEMA releases Sept. 2019 newsletter

Produced by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), the monthly newsletter helps keep the public safety community of the state informed about emergency management issues.

This edition of MEMA’s newsletter includes information on emergency preparedness month, hurricane season, the July Cape Cod tornadoes, Merrimack Valley Natural Gas Emergency anniversary, hazard mitigation grants, upcoming training classes, and more.

Most information is available on the MEMA website, and you can download the current edition (PDF) right here. You can also access past monthly reports online at the MEMA website.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Deadlines

As many TAM members have heard, Massachusetts has a new Paid Family and Medical Law (PFML) that has upcoming deadlines to be aware of. The new program is being administered by the Department of Family and Medical Leave (Department). Please take note of the following key facts.

Required Withholding Starts October 1
The start date for required PFML contributions is October 1, 2019. On that date, employers must begin withholding PFML contributions from employee qualifying earnings. Employers will be responsible for remitting employee and (if applicable) employer contributions for the October 1 to December 31 quarter through MassTaxConnect by January 31, 2020.

Contribution Rate Change 
The PFML law requires that the Department adjust the contribution rate to offset the shorter period for collections that will result from the three month delay. As a result, the total contribution rate has been adjusted from 0.63% to 0.75% of employee qualifying earnings. This adjustment will ensure that full funding will be in place for the commencement of benefit payments in January 2021.

Timeline for Required Employee Notices 
Employers have until September 30, 2019, to notify all covered individuals of their rights and obligations under PFML. For information about workplace posters and notice documents for employees, visit the program website.

Timeline Extended for Exemption Applications
Employers that offer paid leave benefits that are at least as generous as those required under the PFML law may apply to the Department for an exemption from making contributions. Employers will have until December 20, 2019, to apply for an exemption that will excuse them from the obligation to remit contributions for the full period commencing with the October 1 start date.

A checklist of required actions may be found online right here. For other information about this new program, visit the program’s website.

Cleveland Research releases trucking trends for August

On Aug. 19, Chris Johnson from the Cleveland Research Company updated their trend analysis for the transportation industry. The full report is available as a PDF [2.7 MB]

The report details trends for the global airfreight, containerized ocean traffic, rail and trucking segments. An overview of US trucking trends was provided, and includes the following information:

  • Truckload tonnage growth in June rose 1.5% Y/Y, its slowest growth rate since April 2017, and continues to remain below the high-single digit growth during most of 2018. Tonnage declined M/M for the sixth month out of the last eight. While June’s growth rate was the 26th consecutive month of Y/Y growth, the 3 month moving average (3MMA) growth rate slowed to 4% (was growing 7%+ from October 2017 to June 2018). 3MMA tonnage was up 0.5% M/M.
  • Spot market dry-van TL rates in July and early August were down 21% Y/Y, consistent with year-to-date trend, as the market lapped significant year-ago rate increases (rates were up 20-30% Y/Y in 1H18). After 2018 contract rates likely increased 8-11% Y/Y, our work indicates TL contract rates are likely down 0-5% Y/Y in 2019 (slowing from modest growth in early 2019), with risk to the downside as spot market rates likely remain lower Y/Y and brokers are likely offering price declines of 5-15% Y/Y (prior estimate was down 5-10%).

Cleveland Research Company (CRC) is an independent research firm headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. The company has a reputation for exceptional ground-level intelligence across the consumer, agriculture, industrial, healthcare, retail, foodservice, and technology industries.

FMCSA logo

FMCSA publishes HOS proposed rulemaking

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on changes to hours of service (HOS) rules to increase safety on America’s roadways by updating existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

“This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

You can read the full release on the FMCSA website here.

The Federal Register Notice, including how to submit comments, is available here. Comments should be submitted no later than the end of September, but the FMCSA does not list a specific date in the document.

Take the ATRI Top Industry Issues Survey

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is conducting its 15th annual Top Industry Issues Survey to identify critical issues confronting our industry and develop strategies for addressing these issues now and in the future. Your opinion is vital to stakeholders who are working to ensure the long-term vitality of our industry.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey.

Baker files commercial driver safety legislation (H.3980)

As you may know, the Baker-Polito Administration has been reviewing the processes and procedures that led to the tragedy in New Hampshire involving a pick-up truck with an attached trailer and a group of motorcycle operators and riders. As part of that review, the governor has filed legislation [Bill H.3980] to make changes to the state portions of the commercial drivers license (CDL) program.

Among the items included in the legislation:

  • applicants for commercial driver’s licenses will have to demonstrate a history of good driving and will be ineligible for licensure if they have been suspended or disqualified from driving at any time in the past three years;
  • the bill also proposes to raise suspension periods for operators with commercial driver’s licenses who commit multiple, serious traffic violations from 60 to 120 days for drivers who commit two serious traffic violations during a three-year period, and raises the minimum suspension period from 120 to 240 days for drivers who commit three serious violations in that window;
  • require drivers to provide next day notification to employers and the Registry if they are convicted of violating any state or local motor vehicle traffic law or if they have their right to operate a motor vehicle revoked or suspended by any state; and
  • require any employer hiring commercial drivers to sign up for the state’s Driver Verification System, a free service that provides automatic notification to employers when an employee’s commercial driver’s license status changes.

The legislation, which was admitted to the Massachusetts legislature late Friday afternoon, will be most likely assigned to the Joint Committee on Transportation. The Trucking Association of Massachusetts has been reviewing this legislation and plans to weigh in with the legislature accordingly.

To review the text of the legislative filing, visit the Massachusetts Legislature’s website. Sponsored by Gov. Baker, the legislation is titled An Act to Promote Commercial Driver Safety. You can also download a PDF of the legislation.

TAM will have more updates on this matter as it progresses through the legislature.