Spot Van, Reefer Rates Soften Over Past Week; Flatbeds Keep Inching Up

February 8, 2017

By Evan Lockridge

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A 7.7% gain in spot truckload freight volume and a 2.1% dip in capacity were not enough to buoy spot truckload rates during the week ending Feb. 4, according to DAT Solutions and activity from its network of load boards.

While the national average flatbed rate showed a modest gain as van and refrigerated freight rates both fell last week. However, rates for each trailer types remain higher than they were in February 2016 while the average cost of diesel during the period was unchanged from the week before at $2.56 per gallon.

Flatbed load availability jumped 21% while the number of flatbed truck posts was virtually unchanged. That led to a 21% increase in the flatbed load-to-truck ratio to 21.9 loads per truck nationally.

The average flatbed rate edged up 1 cent to $1.92 per mile, the third straight week of penny-a-mile rate increases.

Regionally, spot flatbed rates were mixed as several top-paying lanes experienced a drop-off or modest gains:

  • Reno-Watsonville, California, $3.25 per mile, down 43 cents
  • Houston-Fort Worth: $2.13 per mile, down 6 cents
  • Roanoke, Virginia-Springfield, Illinois.: $2.83 per mile, unchanged
  • Baltimore-Springfield: $2.85 per mile, down 38 cents

The spot market for vans was steady last week as the number of load posts increased less than 1% and truck posts fell 2%. The load-to-truck ratio gained 3% to 2.6 loads per truck and the national average rate slipped 3 cents lower to $1.66 per mile and is down from $1.72 three weeks earlier

Also, outbound rates declined in many major markets: 

  • Dallas, $1.51 per mile, down 1 cent
  • Atlanta, $1.85 per mile, down 1 cent
  • Philadelphia, $1.62 per mile, unchanged
  • Chicago, $1.96 per mile, down 5 cents
  • Los Angeles, $1.90 per mile, down 5 cents

In the West, Stockton, Seattle, and Denver all slipped 5 cents lower compared to the previous week, and Denver-Chicago dropped below $1 a mile to 97 cents per mile, down 2 cents from the week before

In the reefer sector the load-to-truck ratio fell 3% to 5.2 nationally as the number of available loads dipped 5% and capacity was down 3%. The average reefer rate lost 6 cents to $1.91 per mile, continuing a pattern of weekly post-holiday declines. In mid-January, the average reefer rate was at $2 per mile.

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