We look forward to a prosperous and joyous New Year with renewed opportunities for us all.
It has been an interesting time with the election and throes of a changing administration. There are many aspects of the recent changes that make the headlines, too many to discuss here. One that I would like to look at closer is our new Secretary of Transportation, Ms. Elaine Chao.
Ms. Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, holds the record of having the longest tenure as labor secretary since World War II. She was the only member of Bush’s Cabinet to serve all eight years of his presidency. Prior to that, Ms. Chao was the deputy secretary of transportation under George H.W. Bush. So, she has real-life departmental experience.
During the hearing, Chao emphasized that safety is the “number one priority and responsibility.”
Infrastructure was the other major talking point. She discussed the need to “rebuild, refurbish, and revitalize America’s infrastructure, so the economy can grow and create good-paying jobs.”
“Our country’s transportation infrastructure is the underpinning of our country’s world-class economy. It is a key factor in productivity growth, providing millions of Americans with a standard of living that is the envy of the world,” Chao said in her prepared remarks, adding, “These gains are being jeopardized by aging infrastructure, growing congestion, increased fatalities on our highways, and a failure to keep pace with emerging technologies.”
She emphasized the need to “unleash the potential for private investment in our nation’s infrastructure.” This will require “a mix of practical solutions, both private and public, that will provide the greatest cost benefit to the public.” She noted that the government “doesn’t have the resources to do it all.”
As for emerging technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and drones, she said she wants to work with Congress to position the federal government to be a “catalyst for safe technologies, not an impediment.”
The freight recession is over. That 18-month malaise was triggered by the worldwide collapse of oil prices at the end of 2014. Energy exploration and fracking cut way back, and the accompanying freight dried up. Fuel prices dropped, and carrier revenues fell due to the declining fuel surcharges. To add insult to injury, line haul rates fell, too, in a cycle of year-over-year declines that lasted through the middle of 2016.
Freight volume and rates finally began to revive in May 2016, and year-over-year volume comparisons turned positive in August. Instead of tapering off after October, as retail freight did in years past. While some may not have noticed, they say a boom market emerged for truckload transportation in November and December. E-commerce was a major source of spot market freight for what is usually a quiet season, boosting truckload rates to a surprise peak in the last two months of the year.
In addition to the surge in e-commerce, the U.S. economy has the potential to become stronger in a number of ways, as the Federal government transitions to a new administration. An increase in demand for freight transportation would be one result, if these new policy proposals are implemented:
Anticipated higher levels of infrastructure spending
Corporate investment, with lower tax rates and repatriation of foreign earnings
Political and economic measures that relax regulation and stimulate growth
Further, an ongoing slowdown in fleet additions by the largest carriers may lead to tighter truck capacity. By the end of 2017, electronic logging devices (ELDs) will be mandatory, and shippers are likely to require them even earlier in the year. By mid-year, carriers that still lack ELDs will find it increasingly difficult to maintain ongoing relationships with shippers, and with the large fleets and freight brokers that serve them.
Buchheit Logistics will be ready for the changes. The unknowns are many, but what is known is that Buchheit enjoys and appreciates our broad and diverse customer base, that works with us throughout the changing business landscape, as we support their logistics efforts with a dedicated team of logistics professionals committed to excellence. We will be ready for your growth and compliant with the regulatory landscape through which we all navigate. Give us a call to see why we are Miles Beyond Expectation.
Amazon won a patent for its design of floating fulfillment centers for its drones to collect packages to deliver to people on the ground below. The airborne warehouses would float some 45,000 feet in the air and be recharged and restocked using smaller aircraft that shuttle to the dirigible. The patent was awarded in December 2016.