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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Logistics Intelligence Brief


Trucker Yellow Corp. Is Pushing Ahead With A Sweeping Overhaul In A Resurgent Freight Market (Subscription Based)

The Wall Street Journal Jennifer Smith May 31, 2021

One of the biggest trucking companies in the U.S., Yellow will combine its regional and national trucking operations into one unified network, a move the company says will modernize operations, eliminate waste and make it simpler for customers such as Walmart Inc. to book shipments. Yellow is one of the largest U.S. operators in less-than-truckload shipping, a transport niche critical to retail and industrial supply chains, in which operators combine shipments from multiple customers on a single trailer. The company’s Holland, New Penn and Reddaway brands provide LTL service in the Midwest, the Northeast and the West, respectively, while its YRC Freight business offers national coverage. The largest opportunity to improve Yellow’s business “is to successfully complete the transition to One Yellow,” said Mr. Harris, who joined the company last year and spent much of his career at FedEx Corp.’s Freight division. “That’s what really gets us on the path to turning things around.”

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Food shippers can’t satisfy hunger for truck capacity (Subscription Based)

The Journal Of Commerce William B Cassidy May 31, 2021

Truck capacity is not on the menu as restaurants in the United States reopen for newly vaccinated customers. US food shippers looking to increase shipment volumes are struggling to find capacity in a trucking market that is already severely constricted. That’s forcing them, like other shippers, to look for alternative means to move food products and supplies and leaving them with limited ability to meet demand. There’s even a shortage of that most basic element of freight transportation, the pallet. “Farms can’t get pallets, and that sounds bizarre, but those things break all the time, and the cost of lumber has gone up significantly,” said GlobalTranz’s Witten.

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Empty airports and full delivery trucks: Covid’s toll on infrastructure, by the numbers

Politico Annette Choi May 27, 2021

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in spring 2020, Americans largely stopped commuting, swapped restaurant meals and bar crawls for walks or hikes, and started shopping for groceries and nearly everything else online. Overall vehicle miles also fell, but not by as much — just 13 percent. But travel across both the northern and southern borders of the U.S. was largely halted: 20 million passenger vehicles from Canada crossed into the U.S. in 2019, compared with fewer than 2 million last year — a 91 percent drop. Vehicular travel from Mexico dipped 37 percent.

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Oil Highest Since 2018 With Iran Deal Elusive and OPEC Talks Due

Bloomberg Alex Longley June 1, 2021

U.S. crude futures climbed to the highest in more than 2 1/2 years after the OPEC+ alliance forecast a tightening global market, while international efforts to revive a nuclear deal with Iran were yet to reach a breakthrough. West Texas Intermediate rose as much as 3.2% from Friday’s close to $68.42 a barrel, while global benchmark Brent topped $70, a level it has failed to hold for a sustained period since 2019. The oil glut built up during the coronavirus pandemic has almost gone and stockpiles will slide rapidly in the second half of the year, according to an assessment of the market from an OPEC+ committee. The coalition is expected to ratify a scheduled output increase for July when it meets later on Tuesday.

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Owner-Operator Model in Trucking Continues to Face Challenges

Truckinginfo.com Deborah Lockridge May 28, 2021

I have a soft spot for independent contractors. I spent my first eight years covering the trucking industry for a publication for owner-operators. I was an independent contractor myself for many years when I first went to work for HDT as a writer. They were my main client, but I loved the flexibility of no one keeping track of when I came to work and when I left, of writing for other publications on non-trucking topics such as food, healthcare, real estate, and parenting. So I believe President Joe Biden and his administration have a big blind spot when it comes to labor issues. He seems to think that labor unions are the only answer, and that independent contractors are all like exploited sweatshop workers. Are there workers who are "misclassified" as independent contractors and taken advantage of? Sure. Including in the trucking industry. I heard many horror stories of abusive lease-purchase programs in my years writing for owner-operators.

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Reimagining the way goods are shipped

Fleet Owner Katerina Jones May 27, 2021

Newer trucks drive better customer service There is a direct connection between a high level of customer service and a private fleet’s focus on utilizing newer, cleaner, more reliable trucks that protect the environment and offer advanced safety features. According to a recent industry report on truck utilization and costs, newer trucks offer significant benefits to a fleet’s bottom line. Fleet operators can realize a first-year per-truck savings of $16,856 when upgrading from a 2016 sleeper model-year truck to a 2021 model. For a fleet of 100 trucks that upgrades to 2021 model-year vehicles, the fleet could save up to $1.7 million.

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Why It’s So Hard to Fill Jobs in Certain States (Subscription Based)

The Wall Street Journal Eric Morath And Stephnie Stamm May 29, 2021

The labor-market recovery after the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns is playing out unevenly across the U.S., from states where there are five openings for every unemployed worker to several where historically high jobless rates persist. In some regions, including less populated areas that imposed fewer Covid-19 restrictions—states such as Utah and the Dakotas—the labor market is red hot, with many employers struggling to fill open jobs. Elsewhere, including in urban areas and tourist hubs that have been slower to ease restrictions—such as New York and Hawaii—labor demand is rebounding more gradually, making the shortages of workers less acute. Workers wanted The northern Mountain West, the Plains, and northern New England stand out as having especially tight labor markets, with about three open positions for every one unemployed job seeker in April, according to an analysis by job search site ZipRecruiter.

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Truckers are getting big pay hikes, but there’s still a shortage of drivers

CNN Chris Isadore May 29, 2021

Rising pay to stay competitive Trucking companies are boosting pay to keep drivers on their payrolls. This week, Roehl put in place its second pay increase of this year, which together should increase driver pay at the company about $4,000 to $6,000 a year, or about 9% to 11%. "We have to offer that addition pay to be competitive," said Norlin.. Another truckload company, CR England, announced in April its third pay hike in the last three years, increasing its drivers' pay by more than 50% compared to 2018. The trucking companies are charging higher rates to customers and taking on more work when the drivers are available. "Our customers have been very understanding that it's necessary to raise rates," said Norlin. "I could literally hire 500 to 1,000 more drivers -- we have the business offerings from customers to keep them busy." Walton said that he's seen his pay increase from about $40,000 a year a few years ago to probably $70,000 this year.

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CTA asks for en banc hearing as it seeks to keep AB 5 out of California’s trucking sector

Freight Waves John Kingston May 31, 2021

As expected, the California Trucking Association has filed an appeal in its setback to keep AB 5 out of the state’s trucking sector, asking a full 9th Circuit to review a recent appellate court decision. In an action filed last week, the CTA asked for an en banc hearing. In an en banc action, the party making the appeal asks for the full circuit to hear the case, with a subset of the full circuit assigned to it. The en banc request was filed last week. In the filing, the CTA returns to the key arguments it has made in its efforts to keep independent contractor law AB 5 away from the state’s trucking market. For all of 2020 and into 2021, those arguments were successful, with a temporary injunction handed down by a lower court early last year barring the implementation of AB 5 in trucking even as it began to govern and impact independent contractor relationships in other fields. (Independent gig drivers, like those at Uber, got out from under AB 5 through the passage last Election Day of Prop 22.)

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FMCSA priorities outlined in Biden’s 2022 budget

Freight Waves John Gallagher June 1, 2021

Regulations and standards related to automated driving and electric trucks are among the top priorities at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) based on details outlined within President Joe Biden’s $6 trillion budget unveiled on Friday. The approximately $88 billion requested for the Department of Transportation in 2022 is essentially unchanged from the 2021 enacted funding level. Within that amount, $748 million was set aside for FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Operations and Programs account and for Motor Carrier Safety Grants, roughly 10% less than what was enacted in 2021 for the agency’s main safety accounts. Beyond those two line items, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s budget emphasized “transformational investment” in autonomous trucking, noting that FMCSA will continue to pursue the adoption of Level 2 and 3 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems as well as automated driving systems (ADS). “FMCSA will continue by developing national uniform standards for interacting with ADS Level 4 and 5 automated commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) during roadside truck inspections, in work zone areas, in situations involving emergency response personnel and with deploying required hazard triangles with disabled automated CMVs.”

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Biden’s Budget Includes Boost for Transportation Purposes

Transport Topics Eleanor Lamb May 28, 2021

In a document detailing the budget’s highlights, DOT said: Some $675.8 million was requested for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Some $288 million of that represents the request for administrative expenses, information technology and research, while $388 million was requested for FMCSA grant programs. In an effort to prepare for the next generation of vehicles, FMCSA plans to conduct research to support the development of regulations, procedures and guidance for roadside inspectors regarding inspecting electric trucks and responding to electric truck crashes.

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STB’s Oberman pens letter to Class I railroad CEOs, regarding service concerns

Logistics Management May 28, 2021

“I recognize that these rail service challenges, at least to some extent, have been related to workforce reductions resulting from COVID-19 cases, quarantines, and furloughs based on the temporary decline in demand and the resultant adjustments made by railroads in nearly every facet of their businesses,” he wrote. “But I am also concerned by the extent to which these service issues may be related to or exacerbated by a broader trend of rail labor reductions that has been occurring over the past several years. As you know, a lack of personnel, including reserve personnel, makes it more difficult to scale-up operations to respond to increases in demand and to maintain reliable service in the face of unanticipated external events that disrupt ordinary operations or business expectations. Labor shortages can also delay or prolong the recovery period when such network disruptions inevitably occur.”

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