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OTTAWA, Ont. — The top 81 for-hire carriers of freight generated operating revenues of $1.75 billion during the fourth quarter of 2000, according to Statistics Canada.

Average revenue per carrier rose 11 per cent, compared with the fourth quarter of 1999 to $21.59 million, while average expenses climbed 12 per cent, to $20.44 million.

The statistics-gathering agency, which defines the top fleets as being Canada-based trucking companies earning $25 million or more annually, says average expenses climbed 12 per cent, to $20.44 million, during the same period.

On average, top carriers continued to pay more for fuel, 28 per cent more than in the fourth quarter of 1999.

The operating ratio (operating expenses divided by operating revenues) for all top for-hire carriers deteriorated from the fourth quarter of 1999 from 0.94 to 0.95 (a ratio of greater than 1.00 represents an operating loss).

Separately, Statistics Canada explains that freight loaded by railways in December totalled 18.5 million metric tonnes (excluding intermodal traffic), a decrease of seven per cent from December 1999.

The intermodal tonnage was 1.7 million metric tonnes, a decrease of 17.1 per cent, compared with December 1999.

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