After a 17% jump the previous week, spot truckload freight volume increased a modest 1.3% during the week ending March 11, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards. 

Truckload rates and load-to-truck ratios generally maintained their levels for all three equipment types. The national average van rate fell 3 cents to $1.63/mile while the refrigerated rate slipped 1 cent to $1.87/mile. The flatbed rate also dipped 1 cent, to $2.01/mile, after a 6-cent gain the previous week.

Load-to-truck ratios held firm:

  • Van ratio: 2.8 loads per truck, down 2%
  • Reefer ratio: 5.8, up 1%
  • Flatbed ratio: 35.8, up 4%

REEFER TRENDS

While weather has upended planting and harvest schedules in California and elsewhere, one reefer market in particular has stayed hot: Texas, home to three of the top five markets for reefer load posts last week. McAllen was No. 2 behind Atlanta and had some sizzling rate increases, including outbound to Atlanta (up 24 cents to an average of $2.12/mile), Elizabeth, N.J. (up 18 cents to $2.09/mile), and Chicago (gaining 16 cents to $1.97/mile).

Houston was the nation’s No. 3 reefer market, followed by Elizabeth and Dallas at No. 5.

VAN TRENDS

Outbound van load volume on the spot market declined 2.5% and truck posts held steady. While average outbound van rates were mixed in key markets across the country, some lanes showed pricing strength:

  • Dallas-Houston was up 5 cents to $2.11/mile
  • Dallas-Chicago paid 4 cents better on average at $1.14/mile
  • Chicago-Buffalo rose 13 cents to an average of $2.30/mile
  • Chicago-Los Angeles is generally a low-paying lane but it paid 9 cents better at $1.26/mile to compensate a bit for a weaker-than-normal market in Los Angeles, which averaged $1.82/mile outbound.

Investment in natural gas facilities on the Gulf Coast has contributed to a big uptick in spot freight activity in the Houston market. Last week, the average van rate from Houston-New Orleans was up 10 cents to $2.09/mile. 

Flatbed loads like construction materials and machinery are also moving through Houston.

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