Fleet Management

Spot Truckload Rates Fail to Gain Except in Louisiana Flood Zone

August 25, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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A 0.9% decline in the number of available loads on the spot truckload freight market outweighed a 0.2% drop in truck postings for the week ending August 20, resulting in freight rates showing no improvements, except for areas in Louisiana affected by flooding, while fuel prices ticked higher.

New figures released by DAT Solutions based on its network of load boards show the overall load-to-truck ratio held at 4.2 loads per truck, with the company saying there are indications at least spot van rates may soon be on the rise.

The national average van rate slipped 1 cent from the week before to $1.60 per mile, although rates were stable on the country’s top 100 van lanes. (All reported rates include fuel surcharges.)

The number of van load posts increased 1% and truck posts stayed the same, which yielded an increase in the load-to-truck ratio from 2.5 to 2.6 loads per truck, sometimes an indicator of higher freight rates to come.

Flooding in Louisiana led to higher rates on lanes heading into the New Orleans market, which includes Baton Rouge, according to DAT. Van loads from Dallas to New Orleans paid 18 cents better last week at an average of $1.79 per mile while Houston to New Orleans also added 16 cents to $2.10 per mile.

Increases were even more dramatic on lanes into the Shreveport market, which includes Alexandria. Ensler Field outside Alexandria is one of the staging areas for FEMA.

One consideration that needs to be taken into account, according to DAT Analyst Mark Montague, is that if you decided to haul FEMA loads, “You're almost certain to leave empty.” You can read more about inbound rates for loads related to Louisiana’s flood relief on the DAT blog.

The number of reefer load posts increased 2% last week while capacity declined 2%. That boosted the load-to-truck ratio from 5 to 5.3 loads per truck. Volume is still up 8% from this time a month ago, and rates have mostly held firm on the high-traffic lanes.

However, the national average spot market rate for reefers edged down 1 cent to $1.89 per mile.

By region, top-paying markets included:

  • West: Los Angeles, $2.40 per mile, down 4 cents
  • Midwest: Grand Rapids, $2.75 per mile, up 7 cents
  • South Central: Dallas, $1.70 per mile, up 4 cents
  • Southeast: Atlanta, $2.24 per mile, down 6 cents
  • Northeast: Philadelphia, $2.17/mile, down 3 cents

Meantime, the number of flatbed load posts declined 4% while truck posts increased 4%. That pushed the load-to-truck ratio down from 11 to 10.2 loads per truck. The national average flatbed rate was unchanged week over week at $1.92 per mile.

All this happened as the national average cost of diesel fuel increased 2.5% over the past week to $2.37 per gallon.

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