Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? newsletter. In this issue, truck convoys head to D.C.; contract rates up 25%; more volume incoming
Contract rates +25% YoY
Cost and compliance — Last week we looked at contract rates, which are up $1 YoY, but what about contract freight? In Zach Strickland’s Chart of the Week he reports, “Contract rates for dry van truckload have increased roughly 25% over the past year, or 59 cents per mile, according to FreightWaves invoice data. In the meantime, carrier compliance rates for accepting electronic requests for capacity have only improved to 81.9% from 78.5%.” Shippers spoiled by years of overabundance are now playing the game on hard mode.
Headwinds — Two months into ’22 and it’s proving to be another brutal year for supply chains. Last year a number of economists predicted that disruptions would last until at least Chinese New Year. They must have meant CNY ’23. Two indicators to watch are current truckload volumes (OTVI) as well as the Inbound Ocean Shipments Index in SONAR. Tony Mulvey reports, “The Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI) remained unseasonably above 15,000 over the past week, sustained by import volumes and consumer demand.” Meanwhile, with the Olympics and CNY out of the way, ocean shipment inbound booking volume is highly elevated … oh and U.S. East Coast ports like Charleston are now feeling the pain.
Trucker convoy plans roll toward D.C. Wednesday
Freedom Convoy redux? — The U.S. may get a taste of Canada this week via a trucker convoy forming in Barstow, California. The People’s Convoy’s press release states, “American truckers are launching The People’s Convoy, a peaceful and unified transcontinental movement, on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, from the Adelanto Stadium in Southern California.” The convoy’s current itinerary has it arriving at the D.C. Beltway area on March 11. What’s the message? According to the group’s press release, the message is “lifting all mandates and ending the state of emergency” around COVID-19.
Blame Canada? — Truck protests rarely stick and they often fizzle out. Part of what made the situation in Canada so captivating was the fact that a large-scale trucker protest actually happened. Rachel Premack writes in MODES, “The #FreedomConvoy is the most successful North American trucker protest in decades — no question. The most recent successful strike dates back to 1973-1974, when drivers nationwide, protesting soaring gas prices, snarled supply chains.” So, has the Freedom Convoy empowered American truckers and has the Canadian government’s response galvanized protesters’ resolve?
Will it actually happen? — When the Department of Homeland Security initially warned of a convoy at the Super Bowl, I thought that was ridiculous. There had been zero realistic talk about that among any truckers or trucking groups I communicate with. The People’s Convoy may be a much different story. Truckers I know who are on the scene don’t have exact numbers on how many they think will arrive but they’re calling it “highly organized” and “definitely rolling tomorrow.” Here’s a look the staging area at Adelanto Stadium. What also makes numbers hard to nail down is that there are multiple convoy routes as well as convoys. For example, truck parts company owner Bob Bolus told Fox News that his group plans to depart from Scranton, Pennsylvania, for D.C. tomorrow.
How’s it being funded?— Donations to the group pale in comparison to the millions raised (and shut down) on GoFundMe and GiveSendGo for the Freedom Convoy, but there could be a number of reasons for that. With two donation attempts foiled in Canada and the media doxxing donors, supporters may be less willing to use open and transparent funding sources. Canada’s response may have also given some pause to potential supporters as they worry about getting jailed or having bank accounts frozen. One of the organizers of the Freedom Convoy has been jailed and denied bail.
“Law enforcement agencies across the National Capital Region are aware of plans for a series of truck convoys arriving in Washington, DC around the time of the State of the Union.” — U.S. Capitol Police
What’s the plan for D.C. — Fences are going back up around the Capitol and the D.C. National Guard has been put on alert about the convoys. Will such precautions be necessary? Messaging from convoy organizers shows that they’re attempting to avoid downtown D.C. entirely. The People’s Convoy’s current itinerary has it in the Indianapolis area on March 1, the date of Biden’s State of the Union. The group that Bolus plans to ride with out of Pennsylvania is looking to shut down the Beltway. “I’ll give you an analogy of that of a giant boa constrictor,” Bolus told Fox News. “That basically squeezes you, chokes you and it swallows you, and that’s what we’re going to do the D.C.” It isn’t clear how many people plan to join Bolus convoy or how long they plan to stay.
Convoy(s) — Aside from The People’s Convoy and Bolus’ group out of Pennsylvania, there’s at least one more convoy in the works. The American Freedom Convoy is being co-organized by nurse Nicole Robinson. Participants plan to ride on March 1 and arrive in D.C. on March 7. Will this lead to too many convoys in the kitchen? Drive safe, be careful and stay peaceful.
WTT this week
Wednesday — FreightVana’s One Tree Planted program; how usage-based truck insurance works; missing factor in your factoring; opportunities at J.B. Hunt; a live performance; the new DOT Office of Freight; maritime data initiative.
With special guests Shannon Breen, co-CEO and founder at FreightVana; Graham Gonzales, director, strategic accounts at Reliance Partners; Britton Wesson, sales development at J.B. Hunt Transport Services; Lauren Beagen, principal and founder at Squall Strategies; and Tim Valdez, SVP and Factor Leader at TriumphPay..
Friday — NASA joins the show to talk about the logistics of closed-loop life support systems and how they’ll be essential to the deep space supply chain. Plus, founded in 1868, the Florida Harbor Pilots Association comprises 11 member associations that represent nearly 100 highly skilled and highly trained harbor pilots that serve each of Florida’s 14 deepwater ports. We’ll learn all about how they support the maritime industry.
With special guests Justine Richardson, physical scientist for closed-loop life support systems at NASA’s Ames Research Center; and Laura DiBella, executive director at Florida Harbor Pilots Association.
Now on demand
Capacity gets Charleston chewed
Ride the lightning: The future of fuels
What’s going on at the Port of Charleston?
25-plus ships at anchor — Why are vessels piling up at the Port of Charleston like rats inside a Family Dollar distribution center? We asked Campbell University’s Sal Mercogliano, Ph.D. Take a listen.
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