Fleets’ Costs Decline 4.3% During 2012, ATRI Says

Posted in: Business Factoring News, Freight Bill Financing News, Freight Factoring News, Staffing Company Finance News, Staffing Faqctoring News, Trucking Finance News, Trucking Financing News- Sep 09, 2013 No Comments

By Rip Watson, Senior Reporter

This story appears in the Sept. 9 print edition of Transport Topics.

The average total operating cost to run a truck in 2012 fell 4.3% to $1.633 per mile as carriers trimmed outlays to cope with soft freight volumes, the American Transportation Research Institute said in a Sept. 4 report.

Costs fell despite a jump in spending on fuel that became the highest single cost for carriers at 64.1 cents per mile, or 39% of operating expenses. While fuel costs rose 5.1 cents per mile on a year-over-year basis, driver pay and benefits dropped 7.8 cents per mile to 53.3 cents to constitute 33% of operating costs in 2012.

“An uncertain economic future means we have to be ever diligent in watching costs. ATRI’s report provides critical financial data for carriers to use in benchmarking fleet performance and seeking opportunities for improved operations,” said Phil Byrd Sr., CEO of Bulldog Hiway Express in Charleston, S.C., and first vice chairman of American Trucking Associations.



Last year’s overall cost decline from $1.706 per mile in 2011 followed two years of increases, ATRI said. The report was based on actual financial and operating data.

One objective of the report, ATRI said, is “to ensure that the appropriate data inputs were available for transportation planning and investment models” for highway cost estimating purposes.

The study was based on responses from operators of 40,152 trucks that ran an estimated 4.1 billion miles last year.

Survey categories included lease or purchase payments that represented 17.4 cents per mile, or 11% of operating costs, the same in both years on a percentage basis. Repair and maintenance expense was 13.8 cents per mile, or 8% of 2012 operating costs, lower than the 9% the year before.

Insurance, permits and licenses, tires and tolls totaled 14.8 cents per mile in 2012. On a percentage basis, those costs were 9% in both years.

On a per-hour basis, operating costs were $65.29, down $2.92 from the year before.

Over the five years of the survey, operating costs per mile have swung in both directions.

The report on 2012 was almost identical to the initial figure of $1.653 per mile in the 2008 report. Operating expense drop-ped about 20 cents per mile from 2008 to 2009, and rose in 2010 and 2011.

Compared with the economy as a whole, truck operating costs are dropping while inflation continues.

In the ATRI survey, operating costs fell 1.2% from 2008 to 2012. Over the same period, inflation as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was 7%.

Alternative fuels continued to represent a small part of the industry, with just two of the responding fleets saying that they ran natural gas or hybrid equipment.

Empty-mile cost data also were gathered.

Truckload fleets’ empty miles were 22%, double the percentage for less-than-truckload fleets.

Slightly more than half of the respondents were local and regional operators, whose typical trips were less than 100 miles and less than 500 miles respectively. The remaining 44% were interregional and national operators.

 ATRI began the survey in 2008 after concluding that operating- cost estimates done by federal, academic and private analysts varied too much to be dependable. Those cost estimates varied from less than $50 per hour to more than $350 per hour.