Uncertainty reigns supreme in the Ontario trucking market despite a recent uptick in volumes, according to the Ontario Trucking Association’s second-quarter business conditions survey.
According to carriers who filled out the April survey, freight volumes in lane segments covering traffic inside Ontario, between the provinces, and northbound from the United States all increased. The only lane that didn’t show a traffic increase was U.S. southbound. Northbound U.S. traffic has seen a 13-percent increase in the number of carriers seeing a positive volume environment over the first-quarter survey’s results. Between the provinces, 12 percent more carriers have seen volumes increase, and 9 percent more carriers reported increases inside Ontario.
Measuring southbound traffic to the United States, 3 percent fewer carriers reported volume increases compared to the first-quarter survey, but 59 percent of respondents reported no change in volumes.
These numbers don’t necessarily bode well for the future, as only 25 percent of the respondents see improved freight volumes in the next six months. In the first quarter, 40 percent of carriers anticipated a volume increase.
Pricing, overall, is flat, but southbound U.S. rates are declining, with 48 percent of respondents seeing depressed rates on the lane. Northbound pricing had been steady and strong, but carriers are also reporting softness in that area. Capacity across all lanes hasn’t changed significantly from the first quarter. The association reported that there are clear indications of capacity tightening, but noted that shippers still aren’t locking in rates. - Jon Ross