Spot Truckload Freight Volume Falls, Flatbed Rates Gain

July 21, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Spot truckload freight rates switched patterns over the past week, following seasonal highs hit by vans and reefers and a decline in flatbeds, as overall cargo volume was lower than anticipated, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards..

The number of available loads rose just 7% for the week ending July 16, well below the 20% expected rise following the holiday-shortened week before.

The average spot rate for reefer freight fell 4 cents to $1.98 per mile, still a penny higher than the national average in June. The van rate also declined 4 cents to $1.66 per mile, but that's 4 cents higher than the June average. In contrast, the national average flatbed rate gained 4 cents to $1.85 per mile, but far from erasing the 10 cents drop the week before.

This happened as truck posts on the DAT network increased 37% week-over-week causing load-to truck ratios to drop for all equipment types. Vans fell 26% to 2.6 available loads per truck while reefers dropped a little more, 27%, to 4.7 loads per truck. Flatbeds posted the smallest decline 14%, putting the load-to-truck radio at 13.4 to 1

The number of van-load posts gained 3% and truck posts rose 38% as outbound van rates declined in major markets. The highest outbound regional rates all posted declines over the past week, falling between 2 cents and 8 cents per mile.

The one bright spot was Memphis, where rates held steady at an average of $1.94 mile. Also the Memphis-Columbus lane jumped 15 cents to $2.03 per mile. That lane is associated with retail freight so this could be a sign of good things to come, according to DAT.

The number of reefer load posts dropped 4% while truck posts increased 32% for the week. Again, load activity was below expectations.

Rates fell in major regional markets in the Southeast and West. The average outbound rate from Los Angeles declined 9 cents to $2.58 per mile while Sacramento, Ontario, Fresno, and Twin Falls all had lower rates.

On the Mexican border, the average outbound rate from McAllen, Texas, gained 7 cents to $1.82 per mile and edged up on most high-volume lanes. Nogales, Ariz., fell 15 cents per mile with the Nogales-Los Angeles lane plunging 39 cents to $1.67 per mile.

Flatbed load availability added 18% and capacity increased 37%, leading to somewhat of a surprise that the average rate increased rather than fell in the sector over the past week.

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