OTA survey identifies industry trends

by Canadian Shipper

TORONTO, Ont. — Only 24% of OTA member companies that responded to the association’s first Business Pulse e-Survey are optimistic about the industry’s overall outlook, confirming that Ontario carriers are increasingly concerned about the current tumultuous business environment.

Forty-one per cent of 90 respondents said they were “unsure” about the industry’s overall outlook while 34% said they were “pessimistic.”

The fourth quarter survey provides a snapshot of what’s on the minds of Ontario fleets. It has been made available to OTA members, with future surveys to be conducted quarterly.

“The survey results are consistent with what we see is going on in the overall Ontario economy,” said David Bradley, president, OTA. “The combination of factors that have been impacting upon the structure and growth of the Ontario economy, such as the appreciation of the Canadian dollar, increasing oil costs, economic and financial problems in the US, ongoing woes in the North American automotive manufacturing sector, a thickening of the US border and changes in global supply changes, are all reflected in current market conditions and carriers’ outlooks for the foreseeable future”.

The survey included 22 questions about current market conditions, and helped back up anecdotal reports about evolving freight trends.

“There have been some major changes in the volume, mix, trajectory and type of freight moving within, into and out of Ontario,” Bradley said. “This has had a significant impact on capacity and the balance of freight. While there is obviously a lot of uncertainty and concern in the industry at the present time, there are also indications that capacity will continue to adjust and be brought more in-line with demand for transportation service. Trucks are not going to go away; they will remain the preferred mode of freight transportation regardless of what is happening in the broader economy. Obviously, however, a healthy trucking industry requires a healthy economy and 2009 is shaping up to be more of a challenge than 2008.”

Other notable highlights include: 72% of respondents say their access to credit is tightening; only 29% of fleets plan to add more company drivers over the next three months; and just 20% of carriers plan to add more tractors over the next three months. For the full results, contact the OTA.

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