What a difference a year can make! After a strong 2006 in the intermodal drayage industry, 2007 was like going to a party and no one showing up. The fourth quarter of 2006 saw a slight softening, but all indications were that the rebound would begin by the mid- to late-second quarter of 2007. It never happened. Unfortunately, 2008 does not appear to show any significant relief. The continued fallout from the credit crunch, the housing slowdown and lackluster GDP growth all point to a relatively flat market growth in the intermodal drayage market in the coming year.
The long-awaited implementation of TWIC, coupled with the changing regulatory environment at the federal, state and local level, will continue to create uncertainty in terms of available capacity as well as economic impact.
One thing is certain, however: Our piecemeal approach to the aging highway infrastructure will do little to rebuild the foundation so desperately needed to ensure continued U.S. economic growth. This remains the critical issue facing our industry.
The trucking industry, shipping lines and railroads also must do their part in modernizing the end-to-end container shipping business model by embracing common industry standards, including documentation and e-commerce. This will create efficiencies that will drive down costs.