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Performance Metrics Used by Freight Transport Providers - page 5 / 35





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W. Cottrell

Cal Poly Pomona


According to Freight in America (BTS 2006) 19 billion tons of freight, having a value of $13 trillion, were moved within the U.S. in 2002. The cumulative weight and distance moved was 4.4 trillion ton- miles. On a typical day, 53 million tons of goods were being moved about 12 billion ton-miles within the U.S. transport network (68 tons and 15,310 ton-miles per capita). In terms of ton-mileage, the dominant freight transport modes were trucks (34%), railroads (31%), pipelines (16%), and ships (11%). The remaining 8% were carried by aircraft and other modes. Trucks were the dominant mode for shipment distances of less than 500 miles, and rail was dominant over longer distances. California led the nation in

total commodity flows, with 11% of the total value.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside

metropolitan area led the nation, compared to other metro areas, in commodity flows and weight.

The freight transport industry is complex and intermodal, such that more than one mode may be used to transport a good during its origin-destination journey. Truck plus rail, truck plus water, and rail plus water are common multimodal combinations. Overall, trucking is the most frequently used mode for goods transport, accounting for 70% of the value and 60% of the weight of all U.S. shipments in 2002. On the fringes of the freight transport provider industry are the intermediaries, or “freight forwarders,” who act as brokers between shippers and carriers. The freight forwarders can generally be categorized as either 3PL or 4PL. Third-party logistics service providers (3PL) offer a number of functions, including order processing, warehousing, tracking and payments. Fourth-party logistics service providers (4PL) are multifaceted organizations that may link several 3PL companies, while managing worldwide trading systems.

As would be expected, performance measures and concerns vary according to the freight transport market sector. There can also be variation within the given mode, according to the magnitude and scale of operations. The following sections discuss the freight transport providers within the various freight modes.



The trucking industry can be classified into three types of carriers: parcel, full truckload (FTL), and less- than-truckload (LTL). FTL carriers typically carry fully or partially-loaded containers from a shipper to a single destination. The freight is not handled en route, since all contents are bound for the same point. LTL carriers collect freight from different shippers, consolidating the goods into containers for line-haul to a terminal. The freight may be further sorted or consolidated at the terminal for continued hauling. LTL shipments typically weigh between 100 and 10,000 lb. Some FTL carriers have a 10,000 lb minimum shipment. Parcel carriers typically carry shipments weighing no more than 150 lb, although some carriers were starting to move heavier packages.

Commercial vehicle carriers are commonly classified according to “small” and “large.” Small carriers have annual revenue of $30 million or less, while large carriers have annual revenue of $30 million or more. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics uses a three-part classification scheme, in which Class I carriers have an annual operating revenue of more than $10 million, Class II carriers have annual revenue between $3 and $10 million, and Class III carriers have annual revenue of less than $3 million. Just over one million carriers were registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as of 2006. The nation’s “top 100” motor carriers, in 2004, are listed in Table A1 (Appendix). Major FTL carriers included Schneider National Carriers ($3.20 billion in revenue in 2004), Swift Transportation Company ($2.83 billion), J.B. Hunt Transport ($2.79 billion), Werner Enterprises ($1.68 billion), and Landstar Carrier Group ($1.45 billion). Major LTL carriers included United Parcel Service ($36.58 billion in revenue in 2004), Federal Express Express ($19.49 billion), DHL Worldwide Express ($8.57 billion), Federal Express Ground ($4.68 billion), and Federal Express Freight ($3.22 billion). None of


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