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OTA Q2 survey shows truckers’ spirits improving

TORONTO, Ont. -- The Ontario Trucking Association's quarterly Business e-Pluse Survey shows a growing num...

TORONTO, Ont. — The Ontario Trucking Association’s quarterly Business e-Pluse Survey shows a growing number of Ontario trucking company executives are optimistic about the immediate future.

A total of 72% of respondents said they are optimistic about the industry’s overall prospects for the next three months, up 20% from the previous quarterly survey. Only 10% of respondents said they were pessimistic.

That represents the highest level of optimism since the OTA began the survey in the third quarter of 2008, the association notes. At that time, only 17% of carriers were optimistic about the coming quarter.

Optimism has grown steadily in every survey since the second quarter of 2009, with the optimists outnumbering the pessismists for the first time in the third quarter of 2009. Optimists finally became the majority in the first quarter of this year.

The OTA said most fleet optimism is due to the recovery of the domestic economy, with 58% reporting an increase in intra-Ontario freight volumes and 65% noting an improvement in inter-provincial volumes. Last quarter, only 29% and 25% were reporting improvements, respectively.

Ontario fleet optimism is being held back by continued worries about the US economy, however. Only 26% of respondents said they’ve seen volume inprovements over the past three months with 57% reporting cross-border volumes have been about the same. Nonetheless, the OTA says that’s better than the results of the previous eight quarters’ results.

The number of loaded miles seems also to be on the increase, at least for 35% of respondents, up from 16% in the previous survey.

When it comes to rates, most carriers are reporting stable rates with a modest upside for improvement over the next six months. Most carriers report they’re satisfied with the fuel surcharges and accessorial charges they’ve been able to collect.

Carriers also reported that shippers are paying their bills more promptly, with only 18% reporting that shippers are dragging out payment terms.

Eighty-two per cent of carriers reported capacity has either decreased or stated the same in the last quarter. Seventy-two per cent anticipate that capacity will continue to decrease or stay the same over the next six months. About one-third report that shippers are now trying to lock in capacity whereas only 16% reported the same in the last survey.

On the driver front, 40% of responding carriers said they plan to add new players to their roster over the next three months, up from 27% last survey. However, 57% said they’ll be keeping the size of their driving pool the same. Sixty-five per cent said they’ll maintain their current number of owner/operators while 33% said they’ll increase their number of O/Os.

The numbers were similar when applied to equipment buying intentions, showing most fleets are exercising caution.

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