DAT Solutions: Van freight volumes sleepy, hollow

Special to Land Line | 11/3/2016

By and large, October was a good month on the spot market. Load availability rose 2.8 percent on the MembersEdge load board and capacity was up 3.4 percent compared to September. Freight volume also exceeded 2015 levels for the month.

But rates did not catch up to the previous year's highs. And judging by the trendlines from the final week of October, spot freight availability is weakening as we ride into November.

Average spot rates:

  • Van: The national average van rate edged down 1 cent to $1.65/mile
  • Reefer: Reefer rates held steady at a national average of $1.90/mile
  • Flatbed: The national average flatbed rate added 1 cent due to rising fuel surcharges. The average rate was $1.92/mile

Mixed load-to-truck ratios:

  • Van L/T ratio: 2.7. Unchanged
  • Reefer L/T ratio: 6. Up 2 percent
  • Flatbed L/T ratio: 14.4. Down 8 percent

Van market slipping: Volumes rose significantly in Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles as van freight picked up from west to east. But nationally van load availability and truck posts both slipped 1 percent, and rates barely moved on a majority of lanes.

Hot markets by region:

  • West: Los Angeles, $2.07/mile, up 2 cents
  • South Central: Dallas, $1.51/mile, down 1 cent
  • Midwest: Chicago, $2.01/mile, up 1 cent
  • Northeast: Allentown, Pa., $1.95/mile, down 2 cents
  • Southeast: Charlotte, N.C., $1.90/mile, up 3 cents after falling sharply in the previous week, in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

Reefer trends: Reefer load posts declined less than 1 percent last week while truck posts were down 2.5 percent.

California slumping: Reefer volumes in California slumped, which hurt the national picture last week. There was much more regional movement with refrigerated freight than there was with van freight, though, so there’s evidence of a pre-Thanksgiving push.

Key reefer lanes:

  • Ontario, Calif.-Phoenix rebounded 20 cents to an average of $3.03/mile.
  • Green Bay-Des Moines added 20 cents to an average of $1.93/mile.
  • Twin Falls-Los Angeles paid an average of $1.97/mile, 20 cents better than the previous week.
  • Atlanta-Lakeland, Fla., was off 11 cents to $2.76/mile
  • There’s also a lot of poultry shipping out of northern Georgia this time of year, so those factors combined led to a 24-cent drop on the lane from Elizabeth, N.J.-Atlanta, which paid $1.54/mile last week.

MembersEdge tri-haul of the week: Van rates were down last week on the Columbus-Atlanta lane, a typical headhaul. Instead of taking the backhaul rate from Atlanta to Columbus, which was just $1.28/mile last week, try Atlanta-Nashville instead. That lane paid $2.59/mile on average last week, and loads going from Nashville-Columbus paid an average of $1.75/mile. If your hours let you fit that extra third leg into your round trip, you’d add about 60 miles to your trip, and the average roundtrip rate goes from $1.60 to $2.01 for all loaded miles.

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.

Get the latest rate trends at DAT.com/Trendlines or join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards.

Look for more information about load availability and rates at OOIDA’s MyMembersEdge.com, and listen in each Wednesday to Land Line Now for more talk about where to find profitable freight.

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