More truckers thinking the worst is over

TORONTO — As the fourth quarter opened in Canada nearly 20 percent more of Ontario’s trucking population figured the economy had hit rock bottom.

The Ontario Trucking Association‘s latest survey of the pulse of the industry, conducted during the first three weeks of the fourth quarter, shows that 71 percent of responding carriers feel the Canadian
economy has hit bottom – up from 52 percent in the third quarter survey.

In addition, 64 percent said they felt the Ontario economy had also hit bottom, compared to only 46 percent in the previous quarter. Alternatively, a majority – 53 percent – also believe the U.S. economy has yet to reach bottom.

Similarly, while the survey points to growing optimism, there remains a significant level of uncertainty about prospects for the next three months.

"Obviously, there is a growing sense that the worst is now behind us, which is a very good thing. However, I would inject a note of caution and say that things are relatively fragile,” says OTA president David Bradley. “So much of Canadian economic activity is dependent upon trade with the United States and if the U.S. economy continues to falter, then we will be impacted. That, along with the value of the Canadian dollar, continues to be the major wild card in terms of the industry outlook."

In terms of other industry indicators, the proportion of carriers who believe that freight volumes will increase over the next six months outweighs those who foresee volume reductions for intra-Ontario, interprovincial and northbound U.S. traffic, where 35 percent, 43 percent and 38 percent, respectively, are calling for improvement.

A more negative forecast exists for southbound U.S. freight where only 27 percent see improvement and 24 percent see decreases in volume.

There are also signs of tightening capacity. Twice as many respondents (there were 74 in total) said that capacity in their segment of the industry had decreased instead of increasing, while 37 percent say that capacity has stayed the same.

A slight majority (51 percent) expect that over the next six months, capacity in their industry segment will stay the same as it is now, but almost a third (31 percent) expect capacity to decrease, compared to only 18 percent who say that it will increase.

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