DAT Solutions: Hot states get hotter

Special to Land Line | Thursday, September 28, 2017

Just look at that Hot States map from last week.

The deeper the red, the higher the load-to-truck ratio for van freight. Spot truckload freight volumes on DAT MembersEdge hit an all-time high on the top 100 van lanes during the week ending Sept. 23. Rates rose on 66 of those lanes and the national average van rate of $1.94/mile is 16 cents higher than it was for the month of August.

More loads than trucks: Including van, reefer, and flatbed freight, the number of available loads rose 4 percent and truck posts increased 5 percent compared to the previous week. Yet load-to-truck ratios stayed high:

  • Vans: 6.4 available loads per truck, down 3 percent
  • Flatbeds: 43.2 loads per truck, up 5 percent
  • Reefers: 12.2 loads per truck, up 3 percent

Rates up: National average spot TL rates gained again, setting new two-year highs:

  • Vans: $1.94/mile, up 1 cent
  • Flatbeds: $2.25/mile, up 1 cent 
  • Reefers: $2.18/mile, up 3 cents

Van markets solid: Nationally, van load posts increased 4 percent. Volume soared 52 percent out of Atlanta because of emergency freight headed to Florida and pent-up demand from delayed shipments caused by Hurricane Irma. Volumes also rose significantly in Charlotte.

Florida settling down: Despite higher demand, average outbound van rates declined in Charlotte and Atlanta, especially for freight headed into Florida:

  • Charlotte-Lakeland fell 24 cents but was still high at $3.08/mile
  • Same thing with Atlanta-Lakeland, down 22 cents to $3.43/mile

Texas, too: Rates out of Texas markets were down, but outbound averages in both Dallas ($1.78/mile) and Houston ($1.72/mile) were higher than before Hurricane Harvey hit almost five weeks ago.

Strong reefer, flatbed volumes: The number of reefer load posts increased 6 percent and truck posts added 3 percent. In the flatbed segment, load posts increased 4 percent and truck posts slipped 1 percent.

Buffalo wings: Every major van market got a boost to outbound rates in September, but some of the most dramatic increases were out of Buffalo. In just one week:

  • Buffalo-Chicago rose 35 cents to an average of $1.97/mile
  • Buffalo-Charlotte climbed 34 cents to $2.44/mile
  • Buffalo-Columbus was up 31 cents to $2.21/mile
  • Buffalo-Allentown added 27 cents at $2.37/mile

Tri-haul of the Week

Higher prices out of Buffalo create opportunities for revenue-boosting triangular routes. Say you’re taking advantage of the high rates for van loads going from Columbus-Philadelphia. Add a stop to Buffalo on the way back to take advantage of those rates from Buffalo-Columbus.

Columbus-Philly averaged a whopping $3.65/mile last week while the return averaged $1.67, a nice roundtrip if you can do it in two days. If not, take that load from Columbus-Philadelphia, head from Philadelphia-Buffalo ($2.71/mile), and go Buffalo-Columbus ($3.39/mile). Compared to the straight roundtrip, this tri-haul adds about 250 miles (not counting deadhead) and nearly $1,400 in revenue. You’ll make almost $3,900 on the three-day trip, 51 percent higher than the original roundtrip revenue of $2,500.

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 OOIDA’s MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at dat.com/industry-trends/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.

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