FTR's Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) reading of 9.52 in August is a full point improvement from the July reading. The increase moves the index to an expected peak this fall before conditions deteriorate somewhat as the industry absorbs the impact of the hours of service rule changes.
FTR projects conditions for truck fleets to stabilize in 2014 until more information is available about FMCSA regulatory intentions for 2015. The TCI is designed to summarize a full collection of industry metrics, with a reading above zero indicating a generally positive environment for truckers. Readings above 10 would signal that volumes, prices, and margins are likely to be in a solidly favorable range for trucking companies.
Jonathan Starks, director of transportation analysis for FTR, says: "Prior to the government shutdown on October 1, economic and industry data was pointing to a possible uptick in demand as we head into the final stretch of 2013. The length of the shutdown and the outcome of the debt ceiling fight will play a big part in deciding if that acceleration is realized. We continue to expect a resolution to both issues prior to the debt ceiling being reached on October 17; however, the longer this plays out the more difficult it becomes to see a solid agreement taking shape. While the shutdown is a tough pill to swallow in a slow-growth economy, the effects of not raising the debt ceiling would be much more dramatic and devastating. We are hopeful that a compromise solution can be crafted before that occurs"
The details of the August TCI Index are found in the October issue of the Trucking Update published October 4, 2013. Notes by the Dashboard Light commentary discusses issues in Washington and how they are likely to affect transportation.