TCP survey indicates 61% of carriers expect to expand their fleets this year. Image: TCP

TCP survey indicates 61% of carriers expect to expand their fleets this year. Image: TCP

The year now unfolding will be one of “stability for trucking,” contends Transport Capital Partners, given the results of the consultancy’s Q4 survey of motor carrier executives.

TCP said that “despite tempered expectations” most of the respondents “remain optimistic that 2016 will bring solid growth for their companies.”

The U.S. economy “will likely continue its steady upward climb in 2016. And, as is often the case, the trucking industry presents us with an accurate mirror to movements in the economy at large,” noted TCP in a new release on the survey.

"Expectations are lower than in recent years but are still positive for 2016,” said TCP Partner Steven Dutro, in summarizing the survey results “The indication is for a stable business environment and little fear of a recession."

At the beginning of 2015, TCP found that 79% of the participants in its survey were looking forward to rate increases over the year ahead. However, going into 2016, that number has slipped to 41%-- marking the lowest percentage the firm has recorded for that expectation since 2009.

Despite this dampened optimism, TCP said “positive expectations remain strong” as 41% of those surveyed still expect their freight revenue rates to rise this year.

“In this survey, and in carrier discussions with TCP, we are seeing more variation in the opinions of individual carriers than in prior years,” said TCP Partner Richard Mikes. “Any further tightening, caused by a small increase in demand or driver shortages, will have a proportionally greater upward impact on spot and contract rates.”

TCP said that 61% of the carriers expect to expand their fleets this year and noted that is perhaps the “most telling of industry expectations” for 2016.

"Growth expectations are not quite as robust as they were in 2014 and 2015,” noted Dutro. “But this [61%] number is still relatively consistent with the expectations— and the modest growth— of the past few years." 

Related: 6 Trends to Track in 2016