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In a recent interview with DrayNow carrier Todd D., he told us that the reason he chooses intermodal is because the short, local loads that he sees on the DrayNow app pay well. And those rates have been getting better, including a 50% increase for spot rates in our Los Angeles market between April and July, and a 14% increase in Chicago.

Besides how much the payout is per load, why else would a carrier want to focus on intermodal trucking? Between truckload, less than truckload (LTL), refrigerated freight etc., there are many options to choose from. What makes intermodal so special?

Equipment Standardization

On every intermodal run, the equipment (chassis & container) is picked up at the rail yard. All a driver needs to do is show up with their tractor, no other equipment is needed! Most of the containers used for intermodal are not private but owned by the rail. This means that unless otherwise stated, you can turn containers for another load without having to head back to a yard for another container. That’s more money in your pocket and less time spent going back and forth.

Trip Flexibility

Let’s say that you pick up a short, 20-mile round-trip run, and that’s the only thing on your schedule for the day. As the day goes on, more loads pop up that would fit into your schedule and would make for a lucrative day on the road, so you pick up a couple. That’s the flexibility offered by intermodal. Since the loads are shorter and originating out of the rails in dense geographic areas, intermodal carriers have the power to look for the best freight even on the day of the appointment.

Wait Times

The waiting game. Whether you’re waiting to get freight loaded for a pickup or waiting to get your delivery unloaded, it’s an inevitable part of trucking. However, based off of DrayNow data, wait times from loads off of our app are lower than the industry as a whole. For example, according to FreightWaves data they were seeing an average of 150 minutes for wait times in March of this year. In the same period, DrayNow was averaging 101 minutes for both shipper & consignee, lower than the FreightWaves numbers across the entire trucking industry. For one trip, the differences in wait periods can seem trivial, but think of how much that will begin to add up over time.

And many intermodal runs don’t even require the carrier to wait at the warehouse. Empty repositions, crosstowns, and one-way trips are quite common and don’t require a carrier to wait. They just drop the container off, whether loaded or unloaded, and move onto the next job.

In Conclusion

Intermodal trucking has a lot of great attributes for carriers to keep in mind. Higher rates for shorter trips, easy equipment usage, flexibility on loads and shorter wait times contribute to a well-rounded trucking experience.

Whether you’re looking to do more intermodal, or don’t even know where to begin, check out the DrayNow app to get started!

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