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

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

  • Van ratio: 2.9 loads per truck, up 25%
  • Reefer ratio: 5.7, up 30%
  • Flatbed ratio: 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. 

However, the overall number of available trucks fell 4% last week.

VAN TRENDS

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 ($1.90/mile, up 6 cents) and Atlanta ($1.89/mile up 4 cents). The national average van rate was up 4 cents to $1.66/mile.

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

REEFER TRENDS

After seven consecutive week-over-week declines, the national average reefer rate increased, picking up a penny to settle in at $1.88/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: 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. That wasn’t the case last week on the lane from Atlanta-Miami, which was up 15 cents to $2.58/mile.

FLATBED TRENDS

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 (34.6) higher for the fifth week in a row. 

The national average flatbed rate was $2.02, up 6 cents.

Rates improved in major markets and especially out of port cities like Los Angeles ($2.24/mile, up 7 cents) and Houston ($2.10/mile up 6 cents). 

Other lanes with gains:

  • Baltimore-Springfield, Mass., was up 25 cents to $3.44/mile
  • Roanoke-Springfield added 21 cents to $2.82/mile
  • Houston-Fort Worth paid 12 cents better on average at $2.36/mile
  • Harrisburg, Pa., outbound increased 5 cents to $3.07/mile

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Get the latest rate trends at DAT.com