TORONTO, Ont. — Ontario fleets are increasingly optimistic about the future, according to the latest Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) Business e-Pulse Survey.
Seventy-three per cent of responding carriers said they were optimistic about the trucking industry’s overall prospects over the next three months. That Q3 survey result was a 20% improvement over the beginning of the year and marked the highest level of optimism since the OTA began the survey in the third quarter of 2008. Only 2% of responding carriers indicated they were pessimistic.
However, the high level of optimism was only a single percentage point better than in the Q2 survey, indicating optimism may have peaked.
Over the past five quarters, optimism has surged from 27% to 72%.
Ontario carriers still have their concerns, however, most notably the slowing pace of US economic recovery. Only 25% of respondents said southbound US freight volumes have increased over the past three months. Fifty-six per cent said intra-Ontario freight has improved, 53% said interprovincial volumes are getting better and 50% said northbound freight into Canada is on the upswing.
Fifteen per cent of carriers said southbound US freight has actually decreased in recent months.
When evaluating overall freight volumes, 63% of responding carriers reported improved volumes compared to a year ago with 47% reporting growth stronger than 5%.
Loaded miles are increasing, according to 40% of respondents, up from 35% and 16% of respondents in the previous two surveys.
Improving freight volumes has yet to translate into higher rates, according to the survey. Most carriers described the current rate environment as about the same as in recent quarters, however 30% reported that rates for southbound US loads are actually getting worse.
Thirty-nine per cent reported improvements in northbound freight rates.
Eight-nine per cent of fleets said they’re satisfied with their ability to collect fuel surcharges and accessorial charges.
The availability of credit has stayed about the same as in recent quarters, according to most respondents.
Ontario carriers reported capacity has either decreased or stayed the same and most (79%) expect capacity to tighten or stay the same over the next six months.
More fleets will be looking for company drivers (44%) and owner/operators (49%) in the next three months, which is up from the Q2 survey. However, the majority will not be adding to their net driver pool. The survey also suggests more Ontario carriers will soon be adding equipment. Thirty-eight per cent said they’ll add to their net number of tractors in the next three months while 40% said they’ll add trailers. Most respondents, however, plan to stand pat with their equipment count.
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