March’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) of -8.69 is just the start for industry, according to FTR, which predicts it will lead to the worst quarter on record. April is in line to be even worse due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
Positive TCI readings are not expected until around the middle of 2021, with the speed of economic recovery uncertain.
“Despite a brief grocery restocking surge, overall trucking market conditions in March were the worst since the Great Recession,” said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking at FTR. “However, once we have all the data for April, March will seem like the good ol’ days by comparison.”
While trucking conditions will improve after April, the outlook is still a mystery, according to Vice, complicated by the ongoing pandemic and financial support from Washington.
The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. The individual metrics are combined into a single index indicating the industry’s overall health.