DAT SOLUTIONS: Spot truckload van, reefer rates reach all-time highs

June 27, 2018

Special to Land Line


The national average spot truckload van rate on DAT MembersEdge gained a penny to $2.31 per mile during the week ending June 23, a new all-time high despite a 7 percent increase in available van capacity and 5 percent decline in the number of available loads.

The reefer rate remained at a record high of $2.70 per mile, and the flatbed rate dipped one cent to $2.81 per mile. Diesel fell for the third straight week, down 3 cents to a national average of $3.216 per gallon.

June remains on track to achieve the highest monthly average rates for all three equipment categories. Spot rates are higher than contract rates for reefer and flatbeds, and spot van rates are just a penny lower than contract. That means brokers are paying more than the shipper-direct contract rates, as a national average, which is very rare.

Van overview
Van load posts were down 5 percent while truck posts increased 7 percent compared to the previous week. The van load-to-truck ratio fell 11 percent to 9.2 loads per truck. That is 64 percent above last year’s June average of 5.6, which was the highest-ever ratio at the time.

Although freight volumes stayed about the same last week, rates moved higher on 64 of the top 100 van lanes. That could be because there are fewer alternatives for shippers. Contract rates have increased about 20 percent since last June, and rail intermodal has experienced crowded terminals and lack of drayage capacity.

Hot van markets
Los Angeles was the No. 1 market for spot van freight volume last week. Los Angeles also leads in rate per mile at $3.09. Some of the hottest lanes:

  • Atlanta to Chicago, up 21 cents to $3.72 per mile. The northbound lane has remained higher than the southbound Chicago to Atlanta lane for several weeks, which is very unusual.
  • Los Angeles to Chicago rose 25 cents to $2.03 per mile. This rail-competitive lane usually moves at much lower rates, signaling that the rails are becoming saturated.

Few lanes of any significance experienced falling rates. One was Houston to New Orleans, which cooled after three weeks of extreme highs. It dropped 15 cents to $3.17 per mile, still high.

Flatbed overview
The national load-to-truck ratio for flatbeds remains high, but it fell to its lowest point since late February, down to 77.9 loads per truck. That was due to a 10 percent decline in load posts and a 3 percent increase in truck posts. Flatbed volumes in June are 32 percent higher than they were one year ago in our top 78 flatbed lanes, and rates in those lanes are 26 percent higher than last year at this time.

Hot flatbed markets
Some of the hot spots for flatbeds last week included Las Vegas and Phoenix in the West, and the Raleigh-Greensboro-Roanoke markets in the Southeast. Two hot lanes:

  • Las Vegas to Phoenix jumped $1.44 per mile to $4.53 per mile
  • Houston to Bismarck, N.D., gained 76 cents to $3.14 per mile

Reefer trends
Reefer load posts and truck posts each rose 3 percent, leading to a slight uptick in the ratio to 12.7 reefer loads per truck.

Hot reefer markets
Reefer volumes from Georgia and the Carolinas continue to strengthen as harvests move north of Florida. Out West, the transition from Texas to California is underway with Los Angeles still strong and the Fresno market coming into peak season.

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.