DAT SOLUTIONS: Van volumes building; spot rates may follow soon

Special to Land Line | 3/7/2019

National average spot rates on DAT MembersEdge dipped lower for vans, reefers and flatbeds but high-traffic van lanes are looking up, especially on the West Coast. Reefer rates continued their seasonal slide, and flatbed rates are starting to respond to increased construction and other activity.

National average rates

  • Van: $1.88 per mile, down 1 cent.
  • Reefer: $2.20 per mile, down 2 cents.
  • Flatbed: $2.33 per mile, down 1 cent.

Compared to the previous week, the number of load posts on DAT MembersEdge was up 3 percent while truck posts fell 2 percent. The result? Higher load-to-truck ratios, usually a sign that rates are firming up.

National average load-to-truck ratios

  • Van: 4.6 loads per truck, up from 4.3.
  • Reefer: 6.0, up from 5.5.
  • Flatbed: 25.7, up from 25.1.

Van trends

While the national average spot van rate slipped a penny compared to the prior week, pricing on the top 100 van lanes seems to have turned a corner thanks to improving West Coast volumes. Average rates were higher on 51 of those 100 lanes, while 41 lane rates were lower and two were unchanged compared to the previous week.

Busy Ports
Van volumes from Seattle were up by double digits compared to the previous week, reflecting strong import activity. Seattle is the closest seaport to China. Look for van activity in Los Angeles and other West Coast ports to pick up this week and next.

Speaking of Seattle
Several key van lanes moved higher.

  • Seattle to Los Angeles increased 14 cents to $1.35 per mile.
  • Seattle to Salt Lake City gained 13 cents to $1.84 per mile.
  • Seattle to Spokane added 13 cents to $3.38 per mile

Slippery Slope
Van rates from Chicago (averaging $2.27 per mile, down 1 cent) continued to decline. Chicago to Los Angeles slipped 2 cents to $1.53 per mile.

Flatbed trends

Flatbed rates have ticked up and down during the last month despite volumes being up 15 to 20 percent in February year over year. One reason: there’s more available capacity, both in the number of trucks on the road and the utilization of existing equipment.

Moving up
Lanes with big price increases last week:

  • Reno, Nevada, to Los Angeles jumped 80 cents to $2.73 per mile.
  • Roanoke, Va., to Cleveland gained 54 cents to $2.67 per mile, possibly on the strength of steel shipments.
  • Cleveland to Milwaukee increased 50 cents to $4.38 per mile.

Coming up dry
Oil-related freight movements from Houston are definitely in a lull. Texas has been experiencing freezing temperatures of late, even in South Texas, leading to lower rates. The average flatbed rate from Houston was $2.28 per mile, a 3-cent drop compared to the previous week.

Tri-haul of the week

One rising van lane that’s not on the West Coast is Buffalo to Charlotte, which averaged $2.25 per mile last week, 10 cents more than the previous week. The return trip paid $2.13 per mile, but we can do even better with one of the tri-haul suggestions in DAT MembersEdge.

For example, instead of hauling a load straight back to Buffalo, the lane from Charlotte to Huntington, W. Va., paid $2.68 per mile last week. And Huntington to Buffalo averaged $3.51 per mile. If you can make it work with your hours, that tri-haul would add 57 cents to your rate per loaded mile. That’s an average of $2.76 per mile and $1,122 in added revenue for 135 more loaded miles, plus an extra pick and drop.

DAT tri-haul of the week chart

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit the MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at dat.com per industry-trends per Trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT industry analyst Mark Montague.



Copyright © OOIDA