Arkansas Transportation Report: Rail, river and truck traffic down in volatile shipping sector

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 27 views 

Arkansas River traffic was down in September, and the month also was a reminder of ongoing volatility in the U.S. economy, according to reports tracking the U.S. trucking and shipping industries.

Arkansas River traffic for the first nine months of 2016 totaled 8.579 million tons, up 16% compared to 2015, with continued declines reported in iron and steel shipments. September saw 903,538 tons shipped on the river, down 12.7% compared to September 2015, according to the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Tonnage on the Arkansas River was down 15% compared to 2014, and fell below 10 million tons for the first time in at least four years, with unusually heavy rains during the year closing the river for several months.

September freight tonnage and shipments were down in the U.S., with five straight quarters of high inventory creating a drag on the economy.

September shipments were down 3.1%, and freight expenditures fell 3.8% compared to the same period in 2015, according to the Cass Freight Index. Cass uses data from $26 billion in annual freight transactions to create the Index. The data comes from a Cass client base of more than 350 large shippers.

arktransreportoct2016The American Trucking Associations’ For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 5.8% in September, following a downwardly revised 5% rise in August. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2015, tonnage was up 3% at the end of September.

The Arkansas Transportation Report is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by the Arkansas Trucking Association and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. Other transportation industry related stories can be found on the Arkansas Transportation Report landing page.

Following are other sector data in the October Arkansas Transportation Report.
• Iron and steel shipments on the Arkansas River totaled 109,200 tons in September, down 35.2% compared to September 2015. For the year, iron and steel shipments are down 23%.

• For the 43 weeks of 2016 ended Nov. 2, the Association of American Railroads reported that combined railcar and intermodal traffic was 21.963 million units, down 6.6% compared to the same period in 2015.

• Traffic out of Arkansas’ three largest commercial airports was up in September, with two of the airports reporting enplanement gains through the first nine months of 2016.

• Airlines for America is predicting a 2.5% rise in Thanksgiving holiday traffic. The group estimates that 27.3 million people will fly during the Thanksgiving break, or about 55,000 passengers a day more than in the 2015 period.

Link here for a PDF of the October 2016 Arkansas Transportation Report.