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October 6, 2016 12:25 PM, EDT

Estes Express, New England Motor Freight Raise Rates, Joining Other LTL Carriers

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Estes Express Lines and New England Motor Freight announced that they’ll raise rates 4.9%, on average, on less-than-truckload shipments, the latest among several major carriers to announce price increases over the past two months.

The rate increase took effect at New England Motor Freight Oct. 3, and Estes Express Lines Oct. 17.

Estes Express Lines ranks No. 14 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers and No. 6 on the LTL sector list. New England Motor Freight ranks No. 18 in the sector.

Estes will also add a $5.90 surcharge per shipment with an origin or destination in California, which the company said was necessary because of new labor laws, stringent equipment specifications and high fuel costs in the state.

“We are making these changes after careful evaluation of the current fiscal environment and industry conditions. Two important factors for the general rate increase include the rising cost of hiring and retaining drivers and mechanics in the midst of a continued skilled labor shortage and the cost of maintaining a dependable fleet,” the company wrote in a statement.

New England Motor Freight also cited rising costs and increased government regulations for the rate increase.

“Regulation, for example, in terms of equipment with the more efficient engines and improved fuel economy. All the technology is very expensive,” said company president Thomas Connery. “You also have the electronic logging devices, which for our company our size, with 1500 power units, that’s going to cost us close to $2 million. We have to keep pace from a pricing standpoint to help pay for these cost increases.”

Connery added that the company, based in Elizabeth, New Jersey, spends almost $1 million per month in tolls. Truck drivers serving the Northeast often use the New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Turnpikes and New York and New England Thruways, all of which charge distance-based tolls. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation also announced Oct. 5 that it received federal approval to charge tolls to big-rig trucks on 13 locations around the state.

Connery also cited higher wages, benefits and insurance premiums as other important contributors to the decision.

Daylight Transport, which ranks No. 22 on the LTL sector list, also increased rates 4.9% on Oct. 3.

UPS Inc., YRC Worldwide, XPO Logistics and Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. also announced 4.9% rate increases recently. ABF Freight, a division of ArcBest Corp. announced a 5.25% increase.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the for-hire TT100, XPO ranks No. 3, Old Dominion ranks No. 11 and ArcBest No. 12.