Fleet Management

Spot Rates Barely Move Despite Big Gains Along Certain Lanes

June 15, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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The latest weekly numbers on the spot truckload freight market are both a good news and not so good news situation.

First, the good news. The number of posted loads increased 36% for the week ending June 11, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

That made it a respectable week for carriers as load-to-truck ratios all jumped substantially. The van load-to-truck ratio hit 3.1 loads per truck, up 23%. The reefer ratio climbed 29% to 5.9 to 1, while the flatbed ratio moved to 20.3 to 1, a 10% increase compared to the previous week. All of this may point to higher rates around the corner

Now, the less than good news. Following some long overdue improvements in rates the week before, they hardly budged in this most recent cycle. However, there were some places that saw big jumps.

The average van rate totaled $1.61 per mile, down 1 cent despite increases in average rates in major markets. Reefers added 1 cent for an average of $1.94 per mile due to higher rates out of California, the Northeast and Midwest. Flatbeds were unchanged at $1.93 per mile as a 1 cent drop in the line-haul rate was offset by a 1 cent increase in the fuel surcharge.

Rates rose sharply in the top 100 van lanes last week as demand for vans fell just 4%. Consumer goods are moving through the retail supply chain and the added freight is driving rates up, according to DAT.

Traditional backhaul lane rates are softer. For example, van loads from Phoenix to Denver are paying 18 cents more in June so far than they did in May, but the backhaul from Denver to Phoenix dropped to 95 cents a mile.

In the reefer market, vegetables and tree fruit in California are now moving, with grapes expected soon. The average outbound rate from Fresno was $2.21 a mile last week, up 8 cents, while Los Angeles jumped 11 cents to $2.59. Nearly all the lanes out of Florida lost traction, with Lakeland to Charlotte falling 24 cents to $1.66 a mile, the region’s largest decline.

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