Van, reefer volumes push spot rates higher

May 29, 2019

Special to Land Line


Spot truckload freight volumes continued to build last week, and higher van and reefer load-to-truck ratios on DAT MembersEdge contributed to increased rates on many major lanes. But national average

National average spot rates through May 26

  • Van: $1.80 per mile, 1 cent lower than the April average.
  • Reefer: $2.16 per mile, 1 cent higher than April.
  • Flatbed: $2.29 per mile, 4 cents lower than April

Van trends

Rates were higher on 54 of the top 100 van lanes compared to the previous week and the national average van load-to-truck ratio rose from 1.6 to 1.8. There will be more urgency among shippers and brokers this week as the end-of-month rush coincides with a four-day week, which may give van rates a boost in many markets.

Where rates are rising

Atlanta boasted the highest number of van load posts in the country last week. Van rates declined on lanes connecting Atlanta with Florida markets, but prices increased on the northbound lanes. On the other side of the country, two lanes out of Los Angeles drew notice.

  • Los Angeles to Denver: $2.50 per mile, up 17 cents.
  • Los Angeles to Seattle: $2.39 per mile, up 13 cents, although pricing out of Seattle was weak; the Seattle-L.A. return trip fell 14 cents to $1.16 per mile.

Reefer trends

There was good news for reefer carriers as a surge in shipments ahead of Memorial Day weekend lifted rates on 44 of the top 72 reefer lanes. The national average reefer load-to-truck ratio jumped from 2.6 to 2.9, equal to where it was during the first week of May.

Where rates are rising

California’s Central Valley seems to be building toward typical June peak volumes. Rising reefer volumes produced higher rates on lanes from Sacramento and Fresno.
Sacramento to Salt Lake City jumped 39 cents to $2.62 per mile.
Fresno to Denver added 18 cents to $2.27 per mile.

Relatively few lanes declined, and most of the drops were slight. Atlanta to Miami fell 15 cents to an average of $2.25 per mile while the return trip also fell 15 cents to $1.91 per mile. That’s a typical seasonal pattern for Florida.

Tri-haul of the week


The national average van rate from Memphis to Atlanta was $2.19 per mile last week while the return averaged $1.79 per mile for a $1.99 per mile roundtrip.

Not bad, but you can do better by clicking on the tri-haul function in DAT MembersEdge and routing through Nashville.

Atlanta to Nashville averaged $2.52 per mile last week while Nashville to Memphis was $2.54 per mile. The tri-haul would only add 78 miles to your trip but boost your average by 39 cents to $2.38 per mile. Instead of $1,508 for the straight roundtrip, the tri-haul would have paid a total of $1,986.

These rates represent averages from last week but you may not be an average carrier. Talk to the load providers and negotiate the best deal you can get on every haul. If you can make it work with your hours and the rest of your schedule, a tri-haul may be able to boost your revenue.

DAT tri-haul chart

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.