Fleet Management

Spot Freight Rates Fail to Follow Surge in Freight

February 03, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Load-to-truck ratios on the spot truckload freight market got a bump during the week ending Jan. 30, possibly due to pent-up demand after the previous week’s storms, but that failed to materialize into better rates which were also down for the entire month.

According to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards, the total number of spot market loads increased 10% last week while available truck capacity fell 2.5%.

On the van market, the number of load posts increased 13% while truck posts fell 3%, leading to a 16% increase in the van load-to-truck ratio to 1.7 loads per truck. The national average van rate was unchanged from the week before at $1.65 per mile. Rates were mixed on high-volume lanes originating in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and the West Coast but fell in the South Central states.

The number of posted reefer loads rose 6% and truck posts declined 3%, leading to a 9% increase in the reefer load-to-truck ratio to 3.8 loads per truck. Overall, the national average reefer rate declined 1 cent to $1.88 per mile, all due to a decline in the fuel surcharge.

Available flatbed load volume was up 11% while capacity increased 2%, yielding a 13% increase in the flatbed load-to-truck ratio to 8.3 loads per truck. The average flatbed rate was $1.85 per mile, down 2 cents compared to the previous week with half of this due to a drop in the fuel surcharge.

News of rates failing to gain is not surprising with diesel prices falling another 4 cents to a national average of $2.03 per gallon during the period.

January Freight Rates Down from Month Before, Year Ago

For the month of January, van load posts were down 14% compared to December 2015. Van posts fell 4%, which sent the average load-to-truck ratio from 2.1 to 1.9 loads per truck. Compared to January 2015, the ratio was down 32%. The national average van rate fell 5 cents in January to $1.66 per mile, due partly to a 3 cents decline in the fuel surcharge. Compared to January 2015, last month's rate lost 27 cents, including a 15 cents drop in the fuel surcharge.

Flatbed load posts rose 10% compared to December and truck posts declined 4%. As a result, the load-to-truck ratio for the month rose 14%, from 7.5 to 8.6 loads per truck. Compared to January 2015, the ratio was down 31%. The national average flatbed rate fell 5 cents in January, compared to the previous month. At $1.88 per mile, the total rate was down 33 cents compared to the average rate in January 2015, including an 18 cents decline in fuel surcharges.

Reefer spot market load volume declined 13% in January compared to December, and capacity was down 6%. The resulting load-to-truck ratio fell 8%, from 4.9 to 4.5 loads per truck. Compared to January 2015, the ratio fell 50%. The national average spot market reefer rate fell 6 cents from December to January, partially due to a 4 cents decline in the average fuel surcharge. At $1.90 per mile, the rate was down 32 cents compared to January 2015, including a 17 cents drop in fuel surcharges.

 

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