DAT Solutions: Van rates, volume up in Southeast

Special to Land Line | 3/23/2016

With more consumer goods moving through key regional hubs, spot truckload van freight volume was up 7 percent nationally while the number of truck posts was unchanged during the week ending March 19, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the OOIDA MembersEdge load board.

With spring in the air, let’s take a closer look at the good, the bad, and the takeaway of the week in the spot van market:

The Good
Some of the strongest van rates were in the Southeast, and in particular on lanes that connect Charlotte, Memphis and Atlanta. In Memphis, the average outbound rate gained 4 cents to $1.85 a mile while the rate from Atlanta was up 3 cents to $1.60. You could book a Charlotte-Atlanta-Charlotte round trip at an average of $1.96 a mile, a 6-cent increase compared to the previous week.

Other markets improved as well: Los Angeles, up 6 cents to $1.89 on higher port traffic; Chicago, up 2 cents to $1.75; Dallas, up 1 cent to $1.51; and Philadelphia, where the Philly-to-Boston lane paid $3.09, a 14-cent bump.

The national average van load-to-truck ratio was 1.6, meaning there were 1.6 available van loads for every truck posted on the DAT load board network.

The Bad
As a national average, the spot van rate was $1.58 per mile, up 3 cents. But a penny of that was fuel surcharge: The price of diesel gained 2 cents to $2.12 a gallon and has increased 10 cents over the past two weeks. If you take fuel out of the equation, the line-haul portion of the spot van rate averaged $1.43 last week, still 13 percent lower than the same period in 2015.

The Takeaway
Seasonal transitions can produce lanes where the rate looks solid one way and shaky on the return.

For instance, the average rate from Memphis to Atlanta picked up 16 cents to $1.96 a mile for the week. The return leg, though, was $1.44, for a roundtrip average of $1.70. It’s a 760-mile roundtrip, which doesn’t give you a great average per day.
The takeaway? If you’re based in Memphis and want to take a load to Atlanta, your ultimate destination is Memphis. You might want to look for a tri-haul to fill out that second day and boost your revenue.

Look for the latest load availability and rate information at OOIDA’s MyMembersEdge.com. And tune in to Land Line Now, where Terry Scruton talks with DAT’s Mark Montague for more details on spot truckload rates.

(Editor’s note: The analysis above is provided to Land Line as a reader service from DAT Solutions. Rates and trends reported are reflected in the DAT Solutions network of load boards.)

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