Less than three months after launching, Uber Freight is expanding into new markets and building out its on-demand freight app, adding personalized features and push notifications to make it easier for drivers to find work.
The ride-hailing technology company’s fledgling logistics business is expanding efforts to sign up drivers located in the West, Midwest and South. Uber Freight has used Texas as a testbed from its soft launch in late 2016 through its public debut in May, though drivers on the app have been delivering loads from the state throughout the country, the company said.
As of this week, the company is actively marketing to drivers and shippers in major metropolitan areas in California, Arizona, the Chicago-Midwest region, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
The updates come as competition intensifies among on-demand freight matching startups looking to disrupt the established logistics industry. Venture firms are expected to pour $1 billion into cloud-based freight platforms this year, including Convoy, which raised $62 million in a new financing round late last month.
Uber Freight won’t disclose how many drivers are using its cloud-based load-matching platform and accompanying mobile app, how many shippers it is working with or other specifics. However, loads from current shippers have increased “about 10 times since the beginning of the year,” said Eric Berdinis, product manager at Uber Freight.
“We’re growing at an Uber-like pace,” said Bill Driegert, director of Uber Freight.
Whatever growth Uber Freight is experiencing comes despite ongoing problems at Uber, including the continuing search to fill the chief executive job vacated when founder Travis Kalanick was forced out earlier this summer. The problems at its parent company come up occasionally in Uber Freight’s discussions with customers, but so far, it has not affected business, Driegert said.
“The product speaks for itself,” he said. “We’re heads down focused on building out the best product we can. If we build the right product for our customers, that’s ultimately what matters.”
Despite its troubles, Uber has billions of dollars in investor cash the company can use to bankroll Uber Freight to get it running without having to worry about turning a profit, said John Larkin, transportation and logistics industry analyst with Stifel Equity Research.
Though they’ve got a lot going for them, startups such as Uber Freight and Convoy are recreating what’s already offered by traditional brokers such as CH Robinson and Coyote, which have been working on updating their own technology to make it more user-friendly, Larkin said.
“The question becomes how comfortable are shippers dealing with startups that are heavy on tech and a little light on the freight side,” he said.
New App Features
To encourage sign ups, Uber Freight updated its mobile app so drivers can set load preferences based on location, hometown, past loads and other specifications. The app uses push notifications – technology that flashes an alert onto a mobile device even when an app isn’t open – to point drivers to available loads that match their preferences.
In the coming weeks, Uber Freight plans to add features that will show drivers “packs” of local, short- or long-haul loads, along with a “For You” pack that includes all personalized recommendations.
Uber Freight continues to limits its service only to full truckloads, though the company is beginning to experiment with other types of services, Driegert said
Trucker Ferdinand Heres of Knoxville, Tenn., signed up with Uber Freight in May. (Photo: Ferdinand Heres)
Ferdinand Heres, an owner-operator who runs out of Knoxville, Tenn., downloaded the app when it became available in May. Since then, he has used it almost exclusively, for approximately 30 loads. He calls the experience so far “picture perfect.”
That’s not the experience he had with other load boards advertising cargo that was gone by the time he saw them.
“I like it much better,” said Heres, owner of Heres Transport. “You look at the loads and prices and take it or leave it.”
Uber Freight has connected him with both small shippers and large companies. Compared to other brokers he’s worked with, Uber Freight is “better organized than just the average, and a little bit more professional,” Heres said.
Phoenix-based Circle H Intermodal is using Uber Freight’s push into new territory to expand its own business. The 42-truck interstate carrier is expanding the lanes it runs from its current territory of the West, Southwest and Texas into the Midwest and Ohio basin area, said Edward Hampton, a partner and the chief executive of Circle H.
Also, four of the company’s 35 drivers have been using the Uber Freight app with such positive results the company is giving it to 15 more drivers this month. Information on loads has been accurate, and the company normally gets paid in 48 hours or less, Hampton said.
“When we need to call in we get a live [person] for answers to questions we have. In my opinion, it’s been a great union,” he said.
Uber Freight’s effort to market itself as a driver-friendly service extends to sponsoring an annual concert at the Great American Truck Show expo later this month in Dallas. The “Take a Load Off With GATS and Uber Freight” concert stars Tony Justice and two other country singers who are either truckers or have truck-driver connections.
A provision in a House funding bill that would delay implementation of electronic logging devices for carriers that serve the agricultural sector faces an uphill battle and drew immediate criticism from the trucking industry.
Language in the same bill that would pre-empt state laws for meal and rest breaks for truckers faces a clearer path forward, however, as it already has backing in the Senate.
A report accompanying the 2018 funding measure, advanced by the House on July 17, includes a provision that would require a study of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s mandate for adoption of ELDs, but it has not gained traction among House leaders and senior senators. Lacking such endorsements just a few months before the mandate’s Dec. 18 implementation hurts the chances of any changes to it reaching the president’s desk.
The report directs FMCSA to provide Congress with a study within 60 days of the bill’s enactment into law that would outline options for delaying the mandate. If the legislation is reported out of the chamber, any provisions different from what Senators approve in their bill would need to be reconciled before a final bill reaches the president. If the ELD provision clears those hurdles and the bill is signed into law, FMCSA would then have two months to deliver the report to Congress.
“Many carriers have delayed purchase and installation of ELDs until they can be certain the technology will be compliant,” according to the bill’s report. FMCSA strongly backs the ELD mandate, as do industry stakeholders, including American Trucking Associations.
With carriers already preparing for the mandate, the House provision might raise alarm within the industry. However, ATA Executive Vice president for Advocacy Bill Sullivan told Transport Topics in a July 19 interview that the narrow exemption sought by a small sector of the agricultural industry is not a delay of the ELD mandate.
“Concerns about ELD compliance from some quarters of the industry, we believe, are wrongly directed at electronic logging, when they’re in fact concerns about hours-of-service rules,” Sullivan said. “The electronic logging device was a rule mandated by Congress. … Congress is who brought this to the attention of the agency. Congress is going to back it up.”
The House bill would not fund in fiscal 2018 enforcement of the mandate for carriers transporting livestock and insects. The report explained that lawmakers sought to address concerns raised by livestock haulers by calling on FMCSA to continue using its “regulatory tools to grant relief that appropriately reconciles highway safety with the unique needs of these carriers” and the livestock.
The scope of the meal and rest break provision is more far-reaching and benefits from a companion provision in a Senate aviation reauthorization bill. That provision is sponsored by Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairwoman of the Surface Transportation Subcommittee, which oversees trucking regulations.
The legislation calls on a “state, political subdivision of a state, or political authority of two or more states” to not enact or enforce a law having to do with meal and rest break requirements. ATA is among the groups supporting the provision and noted to its membership that it would clarify a requirement in a 1994 aviation law to block a California law signed in 2011.
The California law requires employers to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day as well as a second “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for those who work more than 10 hours a day.
An attempt by Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) to strip the meal and rest break provision from the bill was rejected along party lines.
The panel also rejected an amendment by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) that would have restored the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants in fiscal 2018. The House bill would cancel the TIGER grants, for which Congress authorized $500 million in fiscal 2017.
Other trucking provisions tucked into the bill included prohibiting FMCSA from proceeding with a safety fitness determination rule until the DOT’s inspector general issues certain certifications required under law.
The measure, which would fund the U.S. Department of Transportation through fiscal 2018, was reported to the House floor on a 31-20 vote, mostly along party lines.
It would provide $17.8 billion for the DOT’s discretionary budget for the next fiscal year. The request from the Trump administration came in at $16.2 billion for the department.
The bill also would provide FMCSA with $758 million, a $113.6 million increase over fiscal 2017. Nearly half that funding would go toward safety assistance programs. Also, $31.8 million would go for a commercial driver license implementation program, and $43.1 million would be earmarked for high-priority activities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would receive $927 million, which would be $15 million above the fiscal 2017 level, and the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration would receive $268 million, which would be $3.7 million above the fiscal 2017 level.
“We have targeted funding in this bill to essential investments in safety, infrastructure and housing assistance for our most vulnerable populations,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), the chamber’s top transportation funding leader.
“Safety is also a priority in this bill, with responsible increases provided for DOT’s various transportation safety programs and essential funding maintained for rail safety,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said.
A bill has been filed in the U.S. House to delay the compliance date of the federal government’s electronic logging device mandate two years, to December 2019. The change, if enacted, would give owner-operators two additional years to switch from paper logs to an electronic logging device.
The legislation was introduced Tuesday and referred to the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Texas Republican Rep. Brian Babin filed the ELD Extension Act of 2017. Babin’s introduction of the bill came a day after a House panel recommended that the U.S. DOT study whether a “full or targeted delay” of the mandate is needed. Both developments signal that efforts to engage Congress on the issue have gained traction. In a report issued Monday, members of the House cited the burden placed on smaller carriers, like owner-operators, and questions surrounding enforcement and “technological concerns” as reasons to delay the ELD mandate.
For Babin’s ELD delay bill to become law, it must be passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Trump.
Other than passed as a standalone bill, the legislation could also be attached to broader legislation, such as the DOT appropriations bills currently in the works in both chambers of Congress.
Lawmakers have used the DOT funding bills as avenues to enact trucking policy reforms in recent years, such as the reversal of some of the hours of service changes implemented in 2013.
“Uber for trucking,” long considered a freight-matching unicorn, has come to a kind of fruition, with the ride-sharing giant today unveiling its brokerage’s Uber Freight matching app aimed at the owner-operator market with a focus on dry van and reefer loads.
The unveiling comes as one of the company’s other initiatives, its autonomous vehicle development subsidiary Otto, is embroiled in a lawsuit with Google, who claims Uber and Otto stole trade secrets related to autonomous truck tech.
Uber Freight Senior Product Manager Eric Berdinis says the company leaned on its expertise in matching supply and demand and building pricing algorithms in the passenger market, transforming that process into matching freight with owner-operators and small fleets.
“We’re technically a brokerage,” Berdinis says, “and we do that so we can take ownership of the freight and pay our drivers and carriers quickly.”
That aspect, Berdinis says, is what Uber Freight believes will differentiate the company from similar services already in the marketplace.
“We value [prompt payment for delivery] as one of our big promises to our app users,” he says. “Regardless of when the shipper pays us, we’ll pay out for any load that is taken out on our app within a couple days, no questions asked.”
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© Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations Inc.
Reproduction, redistribution, display or rebroadcast by any means without written permission is prohibited.
Some people love vehicles and search all over the country to find the right one. Alternatively, some people need to re-locate for a job or family and driving a car from point A to B is not always possible. There is plenty to worry about when it comes to shipping a vehicle. Sometimes damage happens or scheduling is an issue. Whether the vehicle is a Ferrari or a Ford this video details some of the nuances of shipping a car.
1. Deciding on Whether or Not Ship a Vehicle
If a normal person has never shipped a car it maybe overwhelming at first and just driving it maybe easier. Sometimes if a buyer is planning on getting a new car the experience of doing a road trip with a friend, loved one or even alone can be well worth the memories, something shipping can strip the fun away. However, if time is worth more than the dollar amount than shipping is the way to go.
2. Open or Closer Carrier
Open trailers are far cheaper and quicker to schedule as they are more common. The issue with open trailers is that they leave the vehicle exposed to the elements which means the vehicle will likely be dirty when delivered. Depending on the season dirty can mean different things, salt, snow, ice, sand etc. Enclosed or closed trailers are the alternative which is also more expensive, usually double the cost and can take weeks to schedule. The big pro to closed trailers is that the car arrives pristine, so if a person has a high value vehicle or is concerned about condition this is the right way to do it.
3. Brokers, Trucking and Bidding
There are multiple ways to ship a car. Usually companies are brokers, which means they don’t have their own trucks or drivers and they become a middle man. Other companies are both a broker and have their own trucks and drivers where they may directly transport a vehicle or contract out the job. The other system is a company like uship which winds up being a broker/broker and can add another middle man. Uship is a match maker for a shopper and shipper. One of the best parts of a uship tupe website is that vehicle owners can decide on who they want to use, see different prices and also name their own price. Word of caution, beware of fake reviews.
4. Shipping and Payment
Many brokers will take an initial fee and then it’s the responsibility of the person at the delivery end to pay the driver, usually in cash. Online systems like uship will usually do all of that electronically, however be prepared either way. And lastly inspection before and after delivery is critical, if there is a problem or damage and it is not reported right away filing an insurance claim with the shipper becomes harder.
The federal government has some $51.4 billion in its coffers, primarily set aside for road construction and repair. These funds are raised from a federally imposed 18.4 cent tax on every gallon of gas purchased on American soil. On top of the federal tax, each state collects its own tax on every gallon of gas sold.
Just as the cost of gasoline varies considerably from state to state, so does the effective tax rate. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the amount each state levies per gallon of fuel to identify the states with the highest and lowest gas tax.
Just like federal taxes on gasoline, state-imposed gas taxes are primarily used for road repair and new road construction. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Scott Drenkard, director of state projects at the Tax Foundation, explained that gas taxes are designed to function as a sort of user fee. “It’s similar to a user fee in that it connects the users of roads with the costs of their provision and maintenance,” Drenkard said. Indeed, individuals who drive more will contribute to more wear and tear on road surfaces — but they will also end up funding more road repair through the tax they pay on their fuel consumption.
Despite the tax structure’s logical design, gas taxes are not enough to cover the cost of road construction and maintenance. According to Drenkard, gas taxes are particularly unpopular, and as a result, “they are not really high enough to pay for all state and local spending.” User fees, such as gas taxes and tolls, cover only 52.5% of state and local road spending, according to Drenkard.
With such considerable funding shortfalls, it is likely no coincidence that a large share of the nation’s roads are in mediocre or poor condition. According to a report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers, some 32% of major U.S. roadways are in sub-optimal condition. In some parts of the country, the problem is far more pronounced. In 23 states, over half of all roads are in need of some repair.
Partially because gas taxes can be so politically unpopular, some states have not increased per-gallon taxes in decades. Even the federally imposed 18.4 cent gas tax has remained the same since 1993. This pattern is not universal, however. South Carolina, a state with exceptionally low gas taxes, is one of more than a dozen states that may soon initiate modest increases. In addition, seven states, including Pennsylvania, the state with the highest per gallon gas tax, increased tax rates on January 1, 2017.
The amount a state chooses to tax per gallon of gas is only one factor contributing to prices at the pump. The most significant contributor to the cost of gasoline across the country is the price of crude oil, which is largely dictated by global supply and demand. Refining costs also comprise a considerable share of the final price of fuel.
The differences in gas prices between states are largely determined by both taxes and fuel transportation costs related to the distance from supply sources, such as refineries and pipelines. In general, gas prices tend to be higher in states with higher taxes. Depending on the state, gas taxes, including the 18.4 cent federal tax, account for anywhere between 11.0% and 29.5% of the total per gallon cost. As of mid-January, the average price of gasoline ranged from $2.07 a gallon in South Carolina to over $3.00 a gallon in Hawaii.
To identify the states with the highest and lowest gas taxes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed state and average local gas taxes from the American Petroleum Institute. Average gas prices as of January 24, 2017 for each state came from AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. We also reviewed average annual vehicle miles travelled in each state from the Federal Highway Administration. The share of roads in poor or mediocre condition came from the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Report Card For America’s Infrastructure, which used data from the Federal Highway Administration. All data are as of the most recent period available.
These are the states with the highest, and lowest, gas prices.
The value of freight moved between the U.S. and its border neighbors increased in December for the third time in five months following a string of declines, according to new figures released Thursday by the Transportation Department.
U.S.-North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) freight totaled $87.1 billion as three out of five major transportation modes carried more freight by value with partners Canada and Mexico in December 2016 compared to a year earlier.
The 0.4% rise followed a 3.3% November jump while trucking’s share of the overall cross-border freight picture fell in December.
For all of 2016 the value of NAFTA freight flows fell 3.4% from 2015, down substantially from the 7.2% decline in 2015 from 2014.
The value of commodities moving by pipeline in December compared to a year earlier increased 30.9%, vessel by 2%, and rail by 0.9%. Air decreased by 1.4%, and truck by 2%. The large percentage increase in the value of goods moving by pipeline was mainly due to a 40% jump in the year-over-year price of crude oil.
Trucks carried 61.9% of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continued to be the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $27.4 billion of the $46.8 billion of imports, or 58.6%, and $26.4 billion of the $40.3 billion of exports, or 65.6%.
Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.2% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight.
U.S.-Canada Freight Value Drops
The value of U.S.-Canada freight flows in December decreased from a year ago by 1.2% to $44.5 billion as the value of freight on three modes fell. The value of freight carried on truck declined by 2.1%, rail by 5.4%, and vessel by 20.8%. The value of commodities moved by pipeline increased by 28.7%, reflecting the increased value of mineral fuels year-over-year, while air increased by 1.1%.
Trucking imports from Canada declined 1.3% in December from a year ago while exports to the country moved 2.8% lower
During this 12-month period, much of the mineral fuel freight between Texas and Canada shifted from vessel to pipeline as the value of mineral fuel shipments carried by vessel between Texas and Canada decreased while the value of pipeline shipments rose, according to the Transportation Department. Texas-Canada mineral fuel trade made up about 13.9% of all U.S.-Canada mineral fuel shipments in December 2016.
In December 2016, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada by all modes was vehicles and parts, of which $4.4 billion, or 57.6%, moved by truck and $3 billion, or 39.9%, moved by rail.
Trucks carried 56.7% of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 15.2% followed by pipeline, 11%; air, 5%; and vessel, 3.6%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.9% of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows.
U.S.-Mexico Freight Edges Higher
From December 2015 to December 2016, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased by 2.1% to $42.6 billion as the value of freight on three out of five major modes increased from a year earlier. The value of commodities moved by pipeline increased by 66.1%, vessel by 14.9%, and rail by 8.4%. Truck decreased by 1.9%, and air by 5.2%.
Trucking imports from Mexico declined 2.8% in December while exports were 0.8% lower.
Trucks carried 67.2% of the value of the freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 15.2% of the value of freight to and from Mexico followed by vessel, 9.6%; air, 3.4%; and pipeline, 0.9%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.3% of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.
The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico by all modes in December 2016 was electrical machinery, of which $7.2 billion, or 90.8%, moved by truck.
Good news: the biggest load board in the industry is now even bigger.
Getloaded has been consolidated into DAT to create one gigantic super database.
More carriers to choose from
The consolidation of Getloaded carriers, plus DAT’s own growth, has resulted in a 36 percent increase in the number of carriers accessing DAT load boards compared to a year ago. The consolidation also diversifies DAT’s carrier base, as Getloaded has had a significant number of carriers moving flatbed and specialty freight, as well as hot shot and LTL loads.
Since 2015, DAT has doubled its carrier database to over 18,000 carriers with capacity exceeding 1.3 million trucks, by far the largest available capacity in the industry.
DAT and Getloaded are owned by the same parent company, but until recently the two have operated with independent databases. That meant that loads and trucks posted on one network were not seen on the other one. Getloaded customers have been transferred to the DAT platform, and the Getloaded platform has been retired.
Bigger is Better
“In this case, bigger really is better. On the spot market, brokers want to connect with as many quality trucks that can deliver freight on a lane,” said Don Thornton, Senior Vice President at DAT.
It’s Mobile Too
All customers will benefit from DAT’s new mobile app, DAT Load Board for Truckers. It allows carriers to use their smartphones and tablets to find the same loads that they would using the desktop version of the load board. That’s a plus for brokers too, as they can reach carriers while they’re out on the road and looking for their next load. The Android version is currently available in Google Play, and the iOS version is scheduled for early Spring.
If you have any questions about your load board account or need assistance, please contact our award-winning customer service team at 800-547-5417. They’re available from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday through Friday, and from 5 a.m. until noon on Saturday.
With the new ELD mandate going into effect in less than a year, trucking companies will be dealing with a very different regulatory landscape. All interstate motor carriers will be required to have their trucks equipped with electronic logging devices by December, and truck drivers will have to switch over to electronic logbooks for their HOS logs.
While the mandate has the potential to force some small carriers out of business — possibly leading to higher freight rates, if capacity tightens — there are several other proposed rules and regulations could also have major impacts on the trucking industry in 2017.
Here are 5 new regulations that could affect truckers and carriers the most.
Any truck driver who’s required to track Hours of Service must do so with an electronic logging device (ELD) by December 16. Some shippers may require the carriers they work with to make the change earlier than that. (According to the FMCSA site: “Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000” are exempt from the mandate, though there’s some confusion as to whether the exemption will be based on manufacture date or model year.)
Hours of Service
Some portions of the HOS rules that were introduced in July 2013 were lifted again in 2014. The 2013 rules required 34-hour restarts to include two stretches between 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM, and the restart could be used only once per seven days. Those provisions were suspended, and a study by the FMCSA and Virginia Tech University on the rules’ safety impact will determine whether or not that suspension is permanent. According to Overdrive Online, the report is “under departmental review.”
The Unified Registration System (URS) was scheduled to be fully implemented by January 14, but the FMCSA announced that it’s been delayed. Again. We should learn the new date sometime soon. Once it’s in place, the URS will replace the FMCSA’s old registration system for operating authority, and going forward, all carriers, brokers, and freight forwarders will be identified solely by a DOT number instead of an MC, FF, or MX number.
The public comment period closed last month on a proposed rule that would require speed limiters on vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 lbs. The FMCSA hasn’t suggested what the top speed on the limiters would be. A large segment of those who participated in the public comment period argued against speed limiters, although some large carriers supported a 65 mph limit.
New overtime rules were set to take effect last month, but a lawsuit filed in October by 21 states put the rules on hold. Current law says that any salaried employee making more than $23,660 per year is exempt from overtime pay. The new rules, if implemented, would push that limit up to $47,476 per year. It also would allow for 10% of commission or bonus pay to be counted toward the employee’s total compensation, but only if paid at least quarterly. Most drivers are paid by the mile, but dispatchers, salespeople, and other salaried employees could be affected.