Spot freight rates over the past four weeks. Graphic: DAT

Spot freight rates over the past four weeks. Graphic: DAT

The number of available loads on the spot market jumped 7.1% during the week ending April 1 as shippers worked to finish Q1 on a high note, according to DAT Solutions and based on its network of load boards.

Available truckload capacity fell 4.9% and load-to-truck ratios increased for all three equipment types with flatbeds posting the biggest hike, 14%, coming in at a level of 40.6 to 1. The van ratio moved 10% higher to 3.7 loads per truck while reefers gained 7% for a reading of 6.1 to 1.

Rates stayed firm with the national average van rate was unchanged compared to the previous week while the reefer and flatbed rate both gained 1 cent a mile. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

The week’s big story was the impact of the I-85 roadway fire and collapse in Atlanta, according to DAT. The busiest routes are southbound and less likely to be affected -- freight going to and from the Carolinas and points Northeast account for only about 10% of Atlanta’s truck traffic. Atlanta van freight averaged $1.92 per mile last week, up 2 cents compared to the previous week.

Looking more closely at the three freight sectors, it showed the national average van rate remained at $1.63 per mile. Sixty-two of the top 100 van lanes paid better and 10 were neutral.

Average outbound rates in key van markets:

  • Los Angeles, $1.89 per mile, up 5 cents.
  • Chicago, $1.96 per mile, up 3 cents
  • Houston, $1.65 per mile, up 4 cents
  • Dallas, $1.60 per mile, up 4 cents
  • Memphis, $1.95 per mile, up 6 cents

The average spot reefer rate added a penny to $1.87 per mile. California is active now as strawberry producers move goods to ahead of Easter. Average outbound rates increased 6 cents to $1.87 per mile from Fresno and 4 cents to $2.28 per mile from Los Angeles. And while Fresno-Denver remains below summer pricing the lane picked up 21 cents to $2.14 per mile last week.

According to DAT, other reefer lanes to watch are:

  • Green Bay-Wilmington, Delaware, $2.97 per mile, up 10 cents
  • Atlanta-Lakeland, Florida, $2.62 per mile, up 11 cents
  • Lakeland-Chicago, $1.28 per mile, unchanged
  • Elizabeth, New Jersey-Boston, $3.71 per mile, up 5 cents

In the flatbed market the load-to-truck ratio added 14% as load posts increased 7% and truck posts decreased 6%. Demand continues to be strong and the national average rate added a penny to $2.03 per mile, it highest level out of the past four weeks.