US truckload carrier Swift sees uptick in volume, not rates

The third quarter may have been punishing for trucking operators, but Swift Transportation sees at least a small sign of improvement. “In September thus far we’ve seen an increase in freight volume from our existing contract customer base,” Richard Stocking, president and now co-CEO of the largest US truckload carrier, said Friday. “We’ve been successful in reducing our spot market activity.” That means moving away from lower-priced spot freight. Even so, Stocking called pricing “lackluster.” “We continue to experience pressure on contract pricing,” he said, and in August rates were down 1 to 1.5 percent year-over-year. Overall, Swift’s truckload revenue is down 2.5 percent year-over-year, excluding fuel surcharges, as the end of the third quarter draws near. “Excess capacity, excess inventory and pricing pressures continue to influence both shipper and carrier decision-making,” Stocking said. As a result, he said, Swift has become “fanatically disciplined” about improving efficiency and the utilization of its nearly 20,000 tractor-trailers. Truckload loaded miles per tractor per week has increased 2.2 percent year-over-year in the quarter to date.

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