DAT Solutions: When will spring freight take a leap?

Special to Land Line | 3/29/2017

Crushing snow? Drenching rain? Epic heat? No matter where you are, it doesn’t exactly feel like spring. Especially if you’re moving spot truckload freight.

Available capacity on DAT MembersEdge jumped 5.7 percent for the week ending March 25 as truckers hit the road after – you guessed it – another spate of bad weather in the East. While freight volumes picked up on many top lanes, the total number of posted loads last week dipped 0.4 percent. Load-to-truck ratios sagged as well:

  • Van ratio: 3.2 loads per truck, down 6 percent
  • Reefer ratio: 6.3, down 4 percent
  • Flatbed ratio: 35.8, down 4 percent

More capacity, less freight, and a 1-cent lower fuel surcharge (diesel fell a penny to $2.53/gallon) caused national average van and reefer spot rates to slide 1 cent per mile. The national average flatbed rate rose 1 cent.

Let’s look at the latest trends:

Vans drop a penny: The national average spot truckload van rate was $1.63/mile, 1 cent lower due to the reduced fuel surcharge.

California? Still dreamin’:Los Angeles-outbound spot van freight averaged $1.83/mile, up 1 cent. Volumes in California are better – good news. While the improvement is slow, as volumes build we should see rates pick up in order to attract capacity.

Hot spots: Texas is the place for van freight, with Dallas adding 3 cents per mile to $1.56/mile. Chicago averaged 2 cents higher at $1.94/mile. Key lane: Chicago-Buffalo, up 18 cents to $2.33/mile.

Reefer rates sluggish: At $1.86/mile, the average spot reefer rate is up just 1.5 percent from late February despite a 14 percent uptick in volume on the high-traffic lanes.

March madness:Denver outbound rates rose 10 cents to $1.38/mile. Denver-Phoenix averaged $1.77/mile, well above the norm. With the NCAA Final Four in Glendale this weekend, those beer coolers apparently need filling.

Calm after the storm: Northeast markets calmed down after the winter weather passed. Elizabeth, N.J.-Boston thawed out, dropping 46 cents to $3.67/mile, and Philadelphia-Boston was down 15 cents to $3.35/mile.

Regional reefer movers: Other reefer markets to watch:

  • Green Bay, $2.64/mile, up 2 cents
  • Dallas, $1.85/mile, up 9 cents
  • Lakeland, Fla., $1.36/mile, down 6 cents

Flats stay flat: The flatbed load-to-truck ratio declined slightly after seven straight weeks of increases. Load posts fell 1 percent and truck posts increased 3 percent compared to the previous week.

A post-MATS message: Thank you to everyone who stopped by to see DAT at the Mid-America Trucking Show last week. We really appreciate it and hope you enjoyed MATS as much as we enjoyed talking to all of you.

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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