Spot truckload freight volume jumped 17% for the week ending March 4 compared to the previous week while rates responded with the first week-over-week increase in national averages in more than a month, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

Load-to-truck ratios were up sharply for all three equipment types:

  • Vans: 2.9 loads per truck, up 25%
  • Reefers: 5.7, up 30%
  • Flatbed:: 34.6, up 19%

Despite several weeks where freight volume was up 100% year-over-year, spot truckload rates have been depressed by the number of trucks contract carriers were putting onto the spot market, particularly in the Southwest and West, according to DAT. The overall number of available trucks fell 4% last week while the national average cost of diesel was unchanged at $2.58 per gallon.

Outbound van load volume on the spot market increased 21% while truck posts closed the week down 4%. Prices rose on 56 of the top 100 van lanes last week, led by Memphis at $1.90 per mile, up 6 cents, and Atlanta, at $1.89 per mile up 4 cents. The national average van rate was up 4 cents to $1.66 per mile.

In Chicago and Los Angeles, big increases in the number of available van loads this week may send rates higher, said DAT.

After seven consecutive week-over-week declines, the national average reefer rate increased, picking up a penny to settle in at $1.88 per mile. The number of spot reefer load posts was up 24% against a 14% drop in the number of available trucks.

One market to watch is Miami, “where reefer volumes are surging perhaps because of an early growing season or imports from South America. Usually when there’s an uptick in loads and rates out of Miami, it means that the inbound rate goes down,” said DAT. However, that wasn’t the case last week on the lane from Atlanta-Miami, which was up 15 cents to $2.58 per mile.

Demand for flatbed trucks keeps building. Flatbed load posts increased 13% while truck posts fell 5% last week, which sent the flatbed load-to-truck ratio higher for the fifth week in a row. The national average flatbed rate was $2.02, up 6 cents.

Flatbed rates improved in major markets and especially out of port cities like Los Angeles, at $2.24 per mile, up 7 cents, and Houston at $2.10 per mile up 6 cents.

Other flatbed lanes with notable gains include:

  • Baltimore-Springfield, Massachusetts, up 25 cents to $3.44 per mile
  • Roanoke-Springfield, up 21 cents to $2.82 per mile
  • Houston-Fort Worth, up 12 cents to $2.36 per mile
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania outbound increased 5 cents to $3.07 per mile