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Spot Truckload Freight Rates Level Off Following Gains, Declines

February 22, 2017

By Evan Lockridge

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Spot truckload freight rates appear to have stabilized after flatbeds trended slightly higher the past few weeks while vans and reefers moved downward, according to new figures from the freight matching service provider DAT Solutions.

This also happened as overall freight volume also steadied for the week ending Feb. 18, as the number of available loads increased 4% and truck capacity fell 1.2% compared to the previous week.

The national average flatbed rate was unchanged at $1.96 per mile, but still 5 cents higher than three weeks earlier. Both vans and reefers each declined 1 cent from the week before, coming in at a national average of $1.62 per mile and $1.88 per mile, respectively. Compared to three weeks earlier vans are down 7 cents per mile and reefers lost 9 cents.

All reported rates include fuel surcharges. The average price of on-highway diesel edged up a penny to $2.57 per gallon last week.

With little change in rates, load-to-truck ratios were up, but only a little for each trailer type last week:

  • Van: 2.5 loads per truck, up 4%
  • Refrigerated: 4.7 loads per truck, up 0.1%
  • Flatbed: 26.9 loads per truck, up 9%. Flatbed load posts increased 7% last week while truck posts declined 2%

The number of van load posts increased 3% last week while van posts dipped 1%. While the national average van rate fell, 46 of the top 100 van lanes had higher rates last week compared to 41 that paid less. Thirteen lanes were neutral. Average outbound rates in major markets were mixed:

  • Dallas, $1.49 per mile, up 2 cents
  • Atlanta, $1.83 per mile, unchanged
  • Philadelphia, $1.57 per mile, up 2 cents
  • Chicago, $1.93 per mile, up 2 cents
  • Los Angeles, $1.86 per mile, down 2 cents

Several van lanes fell due to an influx of reefer capacity, according to DAT, as low demand in the reefer market had reefer carriers competing for van freight last week.

Reefer load and truck posts increased less than 1% last week, which kept the national load-to-truck close to where it was the week before

Regionally, winter crops in Florida boosted outbound rates from Lakeland by more than 4% to an average of $1.40 per mile. Warm weather also aided rates on lanes where some commodities suddenly needed protection from heat:

  • Philadelphia-Boston paid 18 cents better on average at $3.46 per mile
  • Grand Rapids-Cleveland rose 29 cents to $3.31 per mile
  • Denver-Houston paid 16 cents better at $1.77 per mile

Warmer weather had the opposite effect on lanes where some commodities suddenly didn’t need protection from freezing:

  • Green Bay-Minneapolis was down 22 cents to $1.89 per mile
  • Grand Rapids-Philadelphia fell 18 cents to $2.70 mile

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