ROADWAY CHOOSES 3 MARKETS FOR FASTER TRANSIT SERVICE MOST DESTINATIONS TO BE 1 OR 2 DAYS

ROADWAY CHOOSES 3 MARKETS FOR FASTER TRANSIT SERVICE MOST DESTINATIONS TO BE 1 OR 2 DAYS

In response to demands by shippers and changes in the market, Roadway Express Inc. announced faster transit times from three major markets as a move toward improved service times throughout its system.

Akron-based Roadway, the nation's second-largest less-than-truckload company, Monday started using scheduled departure times for its trucks to provide one- or two-day service to 70 percent of the U.S. population from Columbus, Ohio; Atlanta; and Winston-Salem, N.C.The company started a pilot program of the faster service in Memphis in April, and followed that with another test market in Cincinnati in June. The company will begin to extend this to more markets soon, based on customer demand, said Jim Schelble marketing manager for Roadway Express' domestic group.

John Hyre, a spokesman for Roadway Express, said the additional markets to receive the improved service will be those where customer need is identified.

"What this is in response to is our customer base and market needs," Mr. Schelble said.

Mr. Schelble could not give an estimate as to when it would be available throughout the Roadway Express system.

This is the direction that other national LTL carriers are going, as they try to compete with overnight and two-day service that is the staple of regional and super-regional carriers. Yellow Freight System Inc. announced

plans for similar service in June, but said the improved service would cause Yellow Corp. to report a loss for the year. Roadway officials said they believe they can implement the improved service while returning the troubled carrier to profitability.

"At the same time we're doing this, we're finding ways to drive costs out of the system," Mr. Schelble said.

Analysts are not sure it will be that easy. Douglas Rockel, analyst with

Furman Selz in New York, said that while the national LTL carriers are being forced to deliver the improved service, it will come at a cost.

"The trade-off is lower load average and less efficiency on the trucks," he said. "Service comes at a cost, I don't care what they say. The hope is that service enhancement is great enough to offset the drop in load average. They must have had some success in test markets to want to continue on."

One Roadway customer using the service in Cincinnati is Cindus Corp., a crepe paper manufacturer. David Swikert, manufacturing manager for the company, said the faster service is key to meeting retailers' new demands.

"It seems like a lot of mass retailers are wanting smaller shipments, more often," he said. He said he prefers using Roadway to regional carriers providing the same quick service.

"We have a limited number of doors here. It's nice when you get someone who covers the whole United States," Mr. Swikert said.