Fleet Management

Spot Freight Rates Spring Back to Life

May 13, 2015

By Evan Lockridge

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National average spot freight rates, four-week trend. Graphic: DAT
National average spot freight rates, four-week trend. Graphic: DAT

Rates for spot market truckload freight posted gains in two of the three major sectors May 3 through May 9 compared to the previous seven days, according the freight matching service provider DAT Solutions.

The 1.9% rise in the average reefer rate moved it up to $2.16 per mile, its best showing out of the last four weeks. Three cents of the gain was in the linehaul portion of the rate with a 1-cent increase in the fuel surcharge.

Flatbeds picked up 0.5% to $2.18 per mile as the linehaul rate fell 1 cent and the fuel surcharge increased by 2 cents.

In contrast, vans continued their recent downward trend, sinking another 0.5% to $1.85 per mile, as the linehaul rate declined 3 cents while the fuel surcharge added 2 cents.

The changes happened as the number of loads posted on DAT’s network of loadboards increased 8% while truck capacity increased just 0.2%.

The rate increases were also reflected in load-to-truck ratios with the biggest increase happening with vans, adding 12%, with 2.8 loads available for every truck posted.

Reefers increased 6.2% to 5.9 loads available per truck while flatbeds fell 0.7% to 20.6 loads per truck.

Demand for trucks outstripped capacity last week in many Southeastern markets, according to DAT Analyst Mark Montague, writing in DAT’s blog.

“Vans outbound from Atlanta got paid 6 cents more per mile last week, for an average of $2.07, as well over 4,000 loads were offered on DAT Load Boards in a single day, when only 1,250 trucks were posted,” he wrote. “The imbalance was even more pronounced in South and Central Florida, with more than 3,800 and 3,000 loads, respectively, and 8.3 loads per truck. Van rates are trending up modestly, but reefer rates are booming; outbound rates from Miami jumped 32 cents in the past week.”

He also noted that apart from the intense seasonal demand in the Southeast, there is more truckload capacity available across the country than there was in April and May of last year.

“There are two main reasons: first, key portions of the hours of service rules were rolled back, giving long-haul truckers more flexibility to deploy the 34-hour restart. Second, the trucking industry benefited from a new labor pool, as workers left the oil and gas fields,” Montague wrote.

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