FTR Says Shippers Would Save 10 Percent with Twin 33s

Shippers would save 10% on operating costs and consumers would save 5% on shipping costs with Twin 33-foot trailer configurations, according to FTR economist Noel Perry.

FTR Transportation Intelligence published a report quantifying the impact of a proposed change to federal transportation policy to allow the use of Twin 33-foot trailer configurations. Authored by Perry, the paper examines the current use of double trailers, the proposal to extend the length of those trailers to 33 feet, and the costs and benefits associated with this change.

Perry concludes that “any small risks from the increased length of 33′ combinations are more than offset by the benefits of fewer combinations to move the same freight,” and that ultimately the “change would reduce engine emissions, pavement wear per ton of freight, and highway congestion.”

The Americans for Modern Transportation coalition has long been in support of allowing the widespread use of Twin 33s to address the growing demands of consumers without sacrificing safety on our highways.

Below are key excerpts from the paper:

A Shift To Twin 33s Would Create Nearly 5% Door-To-Door Cost Savings, While Operating Costs Would Fall 10%. “Adding up this list, you find that variable operating costs, which are 65-80% of total OTR costs, would fall by 10% or more. There would also be some savings in terminal costs and pickup and delivery costs due to the need to handle fewer trailers. The total door-to-door savings are less than the 10% number quoted above because overhead, pick-up and delivery, and loading work is largely unaffected by this proposal. Those segments account for about half of LTL and Parcel costs. When looked at on a total door-to-door cost, the savings would approach 5%.” (Noel Perry, “The Economics Of 33′ Double Combination Trailers,” FTR Transportation Intelligence)

The “Nature Of Trucking Means That Any Savings Will Accrue To The Shippers And, Ultimately, To The End Consumers.” “Importantly, the open-market nature of trucking means that any savings will accrue to the shippers and, ultimately, to the end customers. This savings is especially relevant today because Parcel, and to a lesser extent LTL, is an essential part of the fastest growing supply chain segments, those that serve the exploding online market place. LTL and Parcel carriers support the length change proposal because it will simplify their operations and ease difficult driver shortage issues. However, their finances will change only to the extent that they master the changed operations better than their competitors. In the end, most of the 5% reduction in cost will go to consumers.” (Noel Perry, “The Economics Of 33′ Double Combination Trailers,” FTR Transportation Intelligence)

Twin 33s Move The Same Amount Of Cargo While Taking Up 14% Less Highway Space. “When fully loaded, a 33’ trailer combinations can move the same amount of freight with 18% fewer combinations. The longer combinations take up 4% more space per combination than a 28’ combination. This means that 33’ combinations can move the same amount of freight in 14% less highway space, helping to reduce highway congestion.” (Noel Perry, “The Economics Of 33′ Double Combination Trailers,” FTR Transportation Intelligence)

Optimally Used In The LTL Industry, The Use Of Twin 33s Would Not Impact The Use Of 53′ Single Trailers In The Truckload Industry. “It should be clear from this recitation that double 33’ trailers are not a generic option for truckload operators. Yes, some small niches, like the movement of caskets or insulation, could adopt such combinations for some lanes, but the expansion of doubles use among truckload carriers would be very limited. Our estimates, based on the optimistic inputs above, puts convertible loads in the 1-2% range.” (Noel Perry, “The Economics Of 33′ Double Combination Trailers,” FTR Transportation Intelligence)

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