Fleet Management

Spot Van, Reefer Rates Best Since January; Flatbeds Highest in Nearly Two Years

May 10, 2017

By Evan Lockridge

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National average spot truckload rates for van, refrigerated, and flatbed freight rose during the week ending May 6, with van and reefer rates at their highest marks since January, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

The number of total available loads fell 6% compared to the previous week while truck capacity was virtually unchanged, down just 0.4%. Load-to-truck ratios increased for reefer freight on the strength of produce season but dipped for vans and flatbeds:

  • Van ratio: 3.3 loads per truck, down 3%
  • Reefer ratio: 6.5 loads per truck, up 11%
  • Flatbed ratio: 39.4 loads per truck, down 12%

The national average van rate climbed 3 cents over the past week to $1.70 mile amid a 3% decline in freight volume while truck posts held steady. Lanes with rising rates continue to outnumber falling lanes on a week-to-week basis, with 52 of the top 100 lanes higher, 37 paying less, and 17 unchanged. Average outbound van rates in key markets:

  • Los Angeles: $2.02 per mile, up 4 cents
  • Chicago: $1.89 per mile, down 1 cent
  • Atlanta: $1.92 per mile, up 1 cents
  • Philadelphia: $1.64 per mile, down 4 cents
  • Houston: $1.73 per mile, up 5 cents

Two notable lanes showed increases. Houston-Chicago increased 13 cents to $1.47 per mile, and Houston to New Orleans also gained 13 cents, but for a much higher $2.38 per mile. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

The national average spot reefer rate moved 3 cents higher to $1.97 per mile as load posts increased 9% while truck posts declined 2%.

Spot rates out of California are trending up thanks to tomato production, according to DAT. That’s good for reefer freight but processed and canned tomatoes in paste and sauces are also a boon for vans. From June to October last year, California shipped 500,000 loads of processed tomato products.

Flatbed load posts decreased 12% while truck posts were unchanged. The national average spot flatbed rate edged up 2 cents to $2.09 per mile, its highest mark in nearly two years. With these hikes some key lanes showed volatility:

  • Las Vegas-Los Angeles, $2.96 per mile, up 64 cents
  • Las Vegas-Stockton, $1.98 per mile, down 60 cents
  • Reno-Los Angeles, $2.33 per mile, up 39 cents
  • Harrisburg-Springfield, Massachusetts, $3.78 per mile, down 31 cents
  • Savannah-Charlotte, $3.48 per mile, up 55 cents
  • Rock Island, Illinois-Grand Rapids, $2.91 per mile, up 47 cents


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