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Fuel, Driver Wages Still Loom Large: ATRI Report

Fuel and driver wages (excluding benefits) continued to be the largest cost centers for carriers, constituting 58% of the average operating costs in the first quarter of 2010, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) 2011 update to An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking.

The average marginal cost per mile was $1.45 in 2009 and $1.49 in the first quarter of 2010 for the for-hire segment of the industry. These figures were lower than the average marginal cost per mile of $1.65 found in the revised 2008 analysis.

The research, which identified trucking costs from 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 derived directly from fleet operations, will provide carriers with an important high-level benchmarking tool and government agencies with an accurate dataset for future infrastructure improvement analyses.

ATRI identified 2008, 2009 and first-quarter 2010 cost per mile and cost per hour figures stratified by fleet size, sector and region of the country. Based on feedback from the 2008 study, the per-truck speed calculation methodology was revised to better reflect the range of speeds at which trucks operate.

“Fleets are extremely sensitive to even the smallest change in operating costs given the razor thin margins under which we operate and we need to manage our costs more effectively than ever,” commented Terry Croslow, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Bestway Express, Inc. “ATRI’s study provides an important tool for monitoring and benchmarking our expenses.”

“Given the essential role that trucking plays in freight transportation, quantifying the value of proposed infrastructure improvements depends on real-world industry data. As a result, ATRI’s operational costs data will be a critical input to the transportation planning process,” said Ted Dahlburg, Manager of Freight Planning for the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Philadelphia-Camden-Trenton region.

A copy of this report is available from ATRI at

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