Things are looking up to carriers for the year ahead, according to Transport Capital Partners’ (TCP) 4th Quarter 2011 Business Expectations Survey. The survey showed 61% of carriers responding expect freight volumes to increase in 2012 and only 7% expecting volumes to decrease. Both larger and smaller carriers responded similarly.

Perhaps the best news in the survey is that almost three-quarters of the carriers responding said that they expect rates to increase in 2012.

“Most economists are seeing growth in the economy, albeit still slow,” pointed out Richard Mikes, TCP partner and survey leader: “This is pushing more freight on to a very limited truck base, with shippers and brokers scrambling for trucks as carriers phones ‘ring off the wall.’ Carriers shared a higher level of confidence despite the roller-coaster ride reflected in the stock market over the last quarter.”

The survey volume outlook correlated with the majority of carriers reporting freight rates moving up over the last three months as well. “Freight rates in the spot market are generally upward, according to many sources, as capacity remains flat and volumes are pushing upward in the industry,” noted Lana Batts, TCP Partner.

Carriers are cautious, however, about adding trucks, according to other parts of the survey yet to be fully analyzed. “The industry cut 15 to 20% of their capacity by not buying new trucks and most carriers and dealers are telling us that the new surge in orders is primarily to replace the aging national fleet, not to add more capacity,” Batts observed.