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Spot load volume surges; available capacity drops

Spot load volume surges; available capacity drops

The number of available loads on the spot truckload market jumped 8% for the week ending March 18, 2017, reported DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards. Available capacity fell 3.4% as many truckers pulled equipment off the roads in anticipation of bad weather.

The week began with a push to move freight ahead of storms in the Midwest and East. Shippers rushed to catch up once the roads were clear, and load-to-truck ratios rose for all three equipment types:

•Reefer ratio—6.6, up 16%

•Van ratio—3.4 loads per truck, up 23% to its highest point this year

•Flatbed ratio—37.4, up 5%

Only the van rate increased as a national average compared with the previous week, gaining 1 cent to $1.64/mile. The reefer rate ($1.87/mile) and flatbed rate ($2.01/mile) were unchanged.

Reefer trends—Reefer load posts climbed 16% the week ending March 18. A number of markets in the Southwest saw higher freight volumes and rates, led by Los Angeles CA ($2.27/mile, up 4 cents). Central California remains soft; in Fresno, volumes declined and the average rate dropped 2 cents to $1.81/mile.

Other key reefer markets:

•Green Bay WI—$2.63/mile, up 4 cents

•McAllen TX—$2.08/mile, up 16 cents

•Dallas TX—$1.73/mile, up 2 cents

•Elizabeth NJ—$1.70/mile, up 6 cents

Van trends—The storm affected van activity in and out of East Coast markets. The average van rate gained 20 cents or more in one week on three lanes in the region:

•Buffalo NY–Allentown PA was up 22 cents to $2.80/mile

•Allentown–Boston MA also paid 22 cents better at $3.19/mile

•Philadelphia PA–Boston rose 21 cents to $3.27/mile

The average Allentown outbound rate gained 9 cents to $1.93/mile, while Philadelphia averaged $1.59/mile, up a penny.

Flatbed trends—The flatbed load-to-truck ratio advanced for the seventh week in a row as outbound load volume held steady and available capacity declined 5%.

Big rate swings were likely due to weather:

•Charlotte VA–Roanoke VA was up 37 cents to $2.95/mile

•Harrisburg PA–Buffalo plunged 76 cents better to $2.44/mile

•Cleveland OH–Grand Rapids MI fell 67 cents to $2.27/mile

You won’t find snow in Houston TX, though. Freight volumes and rates there continued to climb, and flatbed freight averaged $2.13/mile, up 3 cents. Looking at all load posts on the DAT network of load boards, with all trailer types combined, Houston is number one so far in 2017.

Other regional flatbed markets were up and down:

•Phoenix AZ—$1.71/mile, up 9 cents

•Rock Island IL—$2.34/mile, down 15 cents

•Atlanta GA—$2.22/mile, down 7 cents

•Harrisburg—$2.99/mile, down 15 cents

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, go to

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