DAT Solutions: Spot truckload volumes going steady

Special to Land Line | 2/23/2017

Call it a Valentine to truckers. But not quite a big box of chocolates.

Truckload freight volumes on the spot market stabilized in the week ending Feb. 18, as the number of loads on MembersEdge picked up 4 percent and capacity dipped 1.2 percent compared to the previous week.

It made for some sweet spot load-to-truck ratios:

  • Van ratio: 2.5 loads per truck, up 4 percent
  • Reefer ratio: 4.7, unchanged
  • Flatbed ratio: 26.9, up 9 percent. Flatbed load posts increased 7 percent last week while truck posts declined 2 percent

Those better ratios were not enough to cause an increase in national average outbound rates, however:

  • Van rate: $1.62/mile, down 1 cent
  • Reefer rate: $1.88/mile, down 1 cent
  • Flatbed rate: Unchanged at $1.96/mile

Let’s take a closer look at the trends:

Vans and reefers, sharing the market: The number of van load posts increased 3 percent last week while van posts dipped 1 percent. Several van lanes were down due to an influx of reefer capacity: low reefer demand has brought temperature-controlled equipment into the van market.

Lanes with gains: 46 of the top 100 van lanes had higher rates last week compared to the 41 that paid less. Thirteen lanes were neutral and outbound rates in major markets were mixed:

  • Dallas, $1.49/mile, up 2 cents
  • Atlanta, $1.83/mile, unchanged
  • Philadelphia, $1.57/mile, up 2 cents
  • Chicago, $1.93/mile, up 2 cents
  • Los Angeles, $1.86/mile, down 2 cents

Reefers rising: Both load and truck posts increased less than 1 percent last week, which kept the national reefer load-to-truck ratio unchanged at 4.7. Regionally, winter crops in Florida boosted outbound rates from Lakeland by more than 4 percent to an average of $1.40/mile.

Gimme shelter: Warmer weather gave a boost to lanes where commodities suddenly needed protection from heat:

  • Philadelphia-Boston paid 18 cents better on average at $3.46/mile
  • Grand Rapids-Cleveland rose 29 cents to $3.31/mile
  • Denver-Houston paid 16 cents better at $1.77/mile

The warmer weather had the opposite effect on other lanes, where some commodities suddenly didn’t need to be protected from freezing:

  • Green Bay-Minneapolis was down 22 cents to $1.89/mile
  • Grand Rapids-Philadelphia fell 18 cents to $2.70/mile

Flats head up: Flatbed load posts increased 7 percent last week while truck posts declined 2 percent. That caused the load-to-truck ratio to increase 9 percent, to 26.9 loads per truck nationally.

Spot 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. The average price of on-highway diesel added another penny last week, settling at $2.57/gallon.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit OOIDA’s MyMembersEdge.com load board, tune in to Land Line Now, and join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards.

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