DAT SOLUTIONS: Flatbeds send spot market volumes higher

May 3, 2018

Special to Land Line


Spot market activity on DAT MembersEdge kept on building last week as the number of load posts increased 3 percent and truck posts rose 4 percent. National van and reefer load-to-truck ratios dipped while the flatbed load-to-truck ratio exceeded 100 for the fifth straight week.

Rates, however, didn’t move much:

  • Van: $2.16 per mile, no change
  • Flatbed: $2.64 per mile, up a penny
  • Reefer: $2.42 per mile, no change

These rates include a fuel surcharge portion. The national average price rose 2 cents to $3.16 per gallon last week. Looking back at April, spot rates for the month were all higher compared to March national averages. The average April van rate is up 1 cent, the reefer rate is 2 cents higher, and the flatbed rate is up 12 cents.

Van overview
Van load posts declined 2 percent last week while truck posts increased 3 percent. That caused the van load-to-truck ratio to dip 5 percent to 6.1 loads per truck. While the national average van rate held steady, prices on many of the top 100 van lanes fell last week. The drops could be a temporary blip because volumes are picking up, which should start to soak up some of the excess capacity on the spot market lately.

Hot van markets
As far a pricing is concerned, there weren’t a lot of big gains on the top 100 lanes, though rates are generally higher than they were a month ago.

Los Angeles was the No. 2 market for van volume last week, but the average rate of $2.35 per mile was up just 1 cent. Seattle was up 3 cents to $1.60 per mile on a 26.6 percent volume increase.

Several bellwether van lanes reflected weaker rates:

  • Columbus, Ohio, to Buffalo – $3.78 per mile, down 30 cents but still one of the highest paying lanes into the Northeast
  • Philadelphia to Boston – $3.95 per mile, down 9 cents
  • Atlanta to Lakeland, Fla. – $3.02 per mile, unchanged although the return was up 4 cents to $1.23 per mile

Flatbed overview
Nationally, flatbed load posts increased 6 percent while truck posts increased less than 1 percent. The load-to-truck ratio to increase 6 percent to 108 loads per truck as a result.

Hot flatbed markets
Cleveland, Las Vegas, Jacksonville, and Fort Worth joined Houston as volume leaders last week. The average outbound rate last week in Phoenix was just $1.79 per mile, making it the only major flatbed market with sub-$2 rates. Others to watch:

  • Memphis, $3.54 per mile, up 16 cents
  • Fort Worth, $2.38 per mile, up 9 cents
  • Houston, $3.03 per mile, unchanged
  • Las Vegas, $2.89 per mile, up 19 cents

Reefer overview
Reefer load posts held steady while truck posts increased 2 percent. That caused the national load-to-truck ratio for reefers to decline 2 percent, from 8.4 to 8.2 loads per truck. Reefer volumes are beginning to build, however, especially in the Miami and Savannah markets.

Tri-haul of the week: Memphis-Allentown-Quincy-Memphis
Van rates going into the Northeast have been solid but coming out, not so much. For example, the long-haul van lane from Memphis to Allentown, Pa., is a 1,000-mile trip that averaged $2.76 per mile last week, but the trip back from Allentown paid around $1.41 per mile.

Instead of heading straight back to Memphis, a load from Allentown to Quincy, Ill., north of St. Louis, paid an average of $1.86 last week while loads from Quincy to Memphis paid $2.81 per mile. Altogether, the tri-haul trip adds about 360 miles, not counting deadhead, but would have boosted your rate per loaded mile from $2.09 to $2.41. You would have added a day but added about $1,500 in revenue.

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.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit the MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at dat.com per industry-trends per trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT industry analyst Mark Montague.