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INDUSTRY PULSE: StatsCan reports indicates reasons behind trucking capacity crunch

OTTAWA, Ont. The latest study of small for-hire motor carriers and owner/operators provides a good indication of...

OTTAWA, Ont. The latest study of small for-hire motor carriers and owner/operators provides a good indication of the industry consolidation that is causing the current capacity shortage.

The number of small for-hire motor carriers (firms with revenue under $1 million and generally less than 10 trucks) dwindled to 5,700 by the end of 2001, Statistics Canada reports in its Daily Bulletin. These small businesses represent more than 60% of motor carriers in the for-hire trucking industry but have suffered a more than 25% reduction in their ranks during the late 90s and early this decade. Their numbers dwindled by an additional 340 from 2000 to 2001.

Most of these carriers business is focused on intra-provincial movements, which accounted for more than 72% ($1.1 billion) of the operating revenues generated from transporting goods. International movements accounted for 19% ($282 million) and interprovincial movements, 9% ($134 million).

On average, these carriers had five employees (including owner operators), four full time and one part time, and they operated one straight truck, three road tractors and three semi-trailers.

The owner/operator ranks have also thinned. From a high of about 41,000 during the mid 90s, their numbers have declined 35,931 by 2001, the Statistics Canada data indicates.

Just about all of these carriers (99%) had revenues under $1 million. Almost three-quarters (73%) of the owner operators offered their services to for-hire carriers, while the remaining owners worked for private carriers (21%) or both for-hire and private carriers (6%).

Intra-provincial movements accounted for 64% ($4.2 billion) of operating revenues generated from hauling goods, while international movements accounted for 24% ($1.6 billion) and inter-provincial movements, 12% ($796 million).

These carriers, on average, had two employees and they operated one road tractor and one semi-trailer.

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