Spot rates, volumes stay firm after Roadcheck

June 19, 2019

Special to Land Line


Trucks returned to the highways last week after the annual Roadcheck inspection blitz. The number of truck posts on DAT MembersEdge jumped 14% compared to the previous week while load posts fell 10%, sending load-to-truck ratios lower for all three equipment types.

Still, national average spot rates were above May averages, and van and reefer freight volumes were each up nearly 20% compared to the previous week.

National average spot rates through June 16

  • Van: $1.90 per mile, 11 cents higher than the May average.
  • Reefer: $2.26 per mile, 11 cents higher.
  • Flatbed: $2.32 per mile, 4 cents higher.

Van trends

The van load-to-truck ratio dipped from 3.8 to 3.0 and rates were lower on 61 of the top 100 van lanes by volume. However, several major van markets including Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, and Chicago were up significantly in terms of available loads.

Where rates were rising

Demand for trucks was strong in the Southeast and West. The average outbound van rate from Memphis, Tenn., was up 8 cents to $2.33 per mile, as was Los Angeles at $2.31 per mile.

Van lanes with gains:

  • Memphis to Columbus, Ohio, up 24 cents to $2.23 per mile.
  • Stockton, Calif., to Portland, Ore., up 18 cents to $2.86 per mile.
  • Los Angeles to Seattle, up 15 cents to $2.72 per mile.
  • Charlotte, N.C., to Buffalo, N.Y., up 15 cents to $2.54 per mile

Reefer trends

The reefer load-to-truck ratio dropped from 6.4 to 4.5. Volumes increased out of both California and Texas, signs that produce season is on.

Where rates were rising

Average outbound reefer rates were higher in Sacramento, Calif., ($2.76 per mile), Ontario, Calif., ($2.80 per mile), and Fresno, Calif., ($2.46 per mile) – three of the top four California markets (Los Angeles fell 2 cents to $2.93 per mile).

Freight volumes were up more than 40% out of Nogales, Ariz., on the Mexico border, and that’s where we saw the largest lane-rate increase last week: Nogales to Dallas was up 49 cents to $3.36 per mile.

Roundtrip best bets

It’s almost always good news when rates rise in both directions on lanes in the same region of the country, as they did on a handful of van lanes that connect Memphis, Charlotte, and Atlanta.

For instance, Memphis to Charlotte paid $2.16 per mile, up 6 cents, and Charlotte to Memphis paid $1.65, up 3 cents, for a roundtrip average of $1.91 per mile. That’s up 9 cents compared to the previous week.

Even when rates dropped in one direction, the roundtrips improved over the previous week’s averages. Memphis to Atlanta went for $2.50, up 10 cents, but Atlanta to Memphis paid $1.86 per mile, down 3 cents. The roundtrip average was $2.18, up 7 cents compared to the previous week.

Rates also rose on lanes from Atlanta to markets in Florida. But can you make money when the northbound legs are about a buck a mile?

Look at Atlanta to Miami, where the average rate was up 31 cents to $2.54 per mile last week. Miami to Atlanta was down 9 cents to $1.04 per mile for a roundtrip average of $2.06 per mile, which is 22 cents higher compared to the previous week.

Remember, these rates represent averages from last week and some of them are trending up now. Talk to the load providers and negotiate the best deal you can get on every haul.

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 load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at 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.

Synchrony Financial