Trucking Rates, Delays Increase Amid Canada Disruptions
Companies involved in Canada-U. S. trade have largely absorbed shipping delays brought on by protests against Covid-19 vaccine mandates by rerouting trucks, freight industry firms said, even as costs to move shipments across the border have increased sharply during the disruptions.
Prices to ship goods from Canada to the U.S. on the spot market for standard heavy-duty trucks jumped 44% to $4.07 a mile from Jan. 2 to Feb. 5, according to Truckstop.com Inc., a platform matching loads to trucks. The rate for refrigerated trucks rose by a third over that period to $4.87, the company said.
Rate increases to ship goods from the U.S. to Canada weren’t as steep, but prices still rose by more than 20% during that period, which includes the time when Canada and then the U.S. imposed a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truck drivers but doesn’t include the weeklong period when protests blocked the crucial Ambassador Bridge corridor connecting Detroit to the city of Windsor, Ontario.
Trucking companies and Canadian exporters say their costs have been escalating recently with broader capacity constraints limiting the availability of trucks and fuel prices rising. Additionally, fewer truck drivers are available because some have chosen not to get vaccinated, which prevents them from cross-border operations.
The bridge blockade disrupted the continent’s supply-chain network, particularly those of automotive factories that run on just-in-time deliveries from parts suppliers to assembly plants. It will take a few days for the manufacturers that suspended production to be back to full output levels, said Flavio Volpe, president of the Toronto-based Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.
Freight-tracking-technology companies said retailers, including supermarkets and consumer-goods merchants, haven’t seen much impact, largely because they have more cushion with inventories than do manufacturers in just-in-time supply chains.
“We’ve yet to see an impact on finished goods, consumer products,” said Glenn Koepke, general manager of network collaboration at FourKites Inc., a Chicago-based freight-tracking technology supplier.
Project44, another tracking-technology firm based in Chicago, said it measured slim delays across Canada for shipments imported from the U.S. since the beginning of the protests compared with earlier weeks. Delay rates for shipments bound for sites within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the Windsor border crossing increased the most in that period, rising from 24% of all shipments before the disruptions to 33% after the protests began, according to project44.
“Most businesses can accommodate these delays without major disruption due to their wide delivery windows,” project44 said in a blog post on the border delays.
Commercial trucks were rerouted to the Blue Water Bridge some 66 miles north of the Detroit-Windsor crossing when the Ambassador Bridge was closed. Truckers faced long delays in crossing that corridor.
By: Paul Page / WSJ