Spot truckload freight volumes improved a bit during the week ending Feb. 25 thanks to a 7% gain in flatbed load posts, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards, but rates were virtually unchanged.

Van and refrigerated freight posts declined 5% and 6%, respectively. Stronger flatbed volume and declining van and reefer freight posts were reflected in the week’s load-to-truck ratios:

  • Van ratio: 2.3 available loads per truck
  • Reefer ratio: 4.4 available loads per truck
  • Flatbed ratio: 29 available loads per truck

While spot load-to-truck ratios remain solid for February, they did little to move national average outbound rates, while the national average price of diesel gained 1 cent to $2.57 per gallon:

  • Van: $1.62 per mile, unchanged
  • Reefer: $1.87 per mile, down 1 cent
  • Flatbed: Unchanged at $1.96 per mile

While van volumes slipped 5% overall, more activity on the top 100 van lanes may soon bring upward pressure to spot rates, according to DAT. But not yet, as no major van market saw a big increase in the average outbound rate:

  • Los Angeles, $1.84 per mile, unchanged
  • Chicago, $1.92 per mile, down 2 cents
  • Dallas, $1.51 per mile, unchanged
  • Atlanta, $1.83 per mile, unchanged
  • Philadelphia, $1.60 per mile, down 1 cent

The number of spot reefer load posts declined 6% against a 1% drop in truck posts. The national average reefer declined for the third week in a row.

Average rates out of were major reefer markets were mixed. Two bright spots were in the Northeast. Philadelphia hit $2.28 per mile, up 6 cents from last week, and Elizabeth, New Jersey was, at $1.67 mile, up 1 cent. In the West, Los Angeles averaged $2.32 per mile, unchanged. In the South, both Atlanta, at $2.11 per mile, and McAllen, Texas, hit $1.93 per mile, down 2 cents on average.

With vans and reefers in a seasonal lull, flatbed rates and volumes are climbing ahead of schedule.

The flatbed load-to-truck ratio increased for the 4th week in a row as load posts increased 7% and truck posts declined 1%. Some strength is due to increased freight activity but weather played a role as well.

For example, Rock Island, Illinois-Minneapolis went from 70 degrees to snow storms late in the week. On average, the lane rate rose 39 cents to $2.55 per mile. Cleveland-Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, jumped 35 cents to $3.09 per mile, a route where it’s unusual to be above $3 per mile this time of year. Raleigh-Baltimore paid 32 cents better on average at $2.61 per mile, surprisingly high for February, according to DAT.

About the author
Evan Lockridge

Evan Lockridge

Former Business Contributing Editor

Trucking journalist since 1990, in the news business since early ‘80s.

View Bio