Fleet Management

Spot Freight Market Measure Remains Low Despite Improvement

April 11, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Seasonal freight volumes got a 38% boost from seasonal freight in March according to the DAT North American Freight index. Compared to February, van freight availability increased 25%, flatbed volume rose 64% and reefer volume added 16%. Graphic: DAT Solutions
Seasonal freight volumes got a 38% boost from seasonal freight in March according to the DAT North American Freight index. Compared to February, van freight availability increased 25%, flatbed volume rose 64% and reefer volume added 16%. Graphic: DAT Solutions

Spot market freight volume got a 38% percent boost from seasonal freight in March, but the DAT North American Freight Index remains at one of its lowest levels in years, according to newly released figures.

Compared to February, van freight availability last month increased 25%, flatbed volume rose 64% and reefer volume added 16%. Despite this, linehaul rates on the spot market declined 1.4% for vans and 1.8% for reefers as flatbed rates increased just 0.6%.

Compared to March 2015, overall spot market freight availability fell 35%

“Year-over-year declines have been a consistent pattern in every month since January 2015, due to a variety of economic factors including lower demand for transportation services in the spot market combined with loose truck capacity,” said DAT Solutions.

Demand declined 48% for vans, 45% for reefer trailers and 16% for flatbeds, year-over-year. Line haul rates fell 16% for vans, 11% for reefers, and 9.6% for flatbeds during this same time.

“A 51% decline in the fuel surcharge, which typically comprises a significant portion of the total rate intermediaries pay carriers contributed to a decline in all-in rates for all equipment types,” said DAT. “All-in rates for vans were down 21%, reefers declined by 17% and flatbeds were off 16%." The surcharge is pegged to the retail cost of diesel fuel.

The numbers are based on DAT’s network of load boards in the U.S. and Canada.

There is some hope that rates may finally be trending at least a little higher with week-to-week figures through early April showing some slight improvements.

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