TransCore’s Canadian freight volumes showing promise for 2016

Feb. 3, 2016

TransCore Link Logistics Freight Index for all Canadian and cross-border loads, as reported by Loadlink’s Canadian-based customers, dipped in December 2015. However, a favourable dip in equipment volumes led to tightening of the truck-to-load ratio, which should benefit carriers in 2016.

Over the last 12 months, freight volumes were tumultuous, experiencing lows very close to 2009’s economic downturn. At the same time, truck volumes showed an all-time high in 2015. December 2015 volumes dropped 36% compared to December 2014.

The high point for 2015 was seen in the first quarter of the year, followed by a steep decline in the summer months and closing out the year at the lowest point. December saw lows similar to volumes on the uptick during the first quarter of 2010.

Equipment capacity was up significantly by 44% year-over-year. Posted equipment increased in the first half of the year, reaching a record-high peak set in July 2015 with almost five trucks available for every load. The lofty levels continued in the second half of the year with slight declines in November and December.

Fourth quarter load volumes were down 31% compared to the fourth quarter volumes of 2014, and only down 8% compared to the third quarter of 2015. Capacity was up 35% in the fourth quarter over of 2015 over the first quarter of 2015.

There was a marginal dip of 2% in load volumes month-over-month, which is an expected seasonal norm for the month given there are two fewer shipping days to observe Christmas and Boxing Day. Equipment availability declined by five percent tightening the capacity month-over-month.

Some factors that may have impacted the Canadian trucking industry for 2015 include:

  • The weakening Canadian dollar throughout 2015;
  • Oil prices reaching the lowest levels since 2003; and
  • The decline in commodity prices

It was an ambiguous year for truck and load volumes, although a general decrease in truck volumes was evident for the months of November and December across Canada. Interestingly, for the last three months of 2015, the Western Region showed notable increases in load volumes along with decreases in truck volumes.