Though spot TL freight volumes slipped 1.2% and truck availability increased 2% for the week ending March 17, load-to-truck ratios and spot rates remained relatively even –although both are considerably higher compared to a year ago, according to data tracked by DAT Solutions.
The national average load-to-truck ratio for all freight hit 14.1 for the week ending March 17, the firm said, meaning there were 14.1 loads for every available truck – nearly double what it was at this time last year.
DAT added that ratios for all three equipment types were stable week-over-week:
- Dry van: unchanged, with a load-to-truck ratio of 6.8.
- Flatbed: 86.7, down slightly from 88.5.
- Refrigerated: 10.1, down from 10.5.
National average spot rates were unchanged week-over-week, DAT said, but are well ahead of last year:
- Dry van: $2.14 per mile, unchanged for the fourth week in a row but 51 cents higher year-over-year.
- Flatbed: $2.50 per mile, unchanged but 48 cents higher year-over-year.
- Refrigerated: $2.40 per mile, unchanged for the third week in a row but 54 cents higher compared to last year.
DAT noted that the number of dry van loads increased 3.1% and truck posts rose 2.2% last week. Overall, rates trended up on 54 of the Top 100 lanes while 41 were down and five were unchanged.
The “Hottest” dry van market is Houston, where freight volumes jumped 4.6% last week. Industrial freight has helped make Houston the leading van market in terms of growth in 2018 so far, the firm noted, with the Houston-Oklahoma City lane – a key corridor energy-related freight – gaining 22 cents to $2.35 per mile.
Refrigerated or “reefer” freight volume rose 9% last week, led by increases in 13 of 17 major markets, DAT said, with “hot” area including: Chicago and Grand Rapids, MI, in the Midwest (eggs and dairy); Sacramento and Twin Falls, ID, in the West; New Jersey and Philadelphia in the Northeast (imports); and Dallas in the South Central region of the country.
California reefer volumes were up 7.6% last week and Florida volumes are gaining strength as fresh fruits and vegetables start to move, DAT noted.
The “hottest” reefer market is Chicago, where load availability jumped 16% week-over-week and rates on several outbound lanes were higher, including Chicago-Philadelphia, up 36 cents to $3.53 per mile, and Chicago-Kansas City, up 36 cents to $3.53 per mile.
Capacity in the flatbed market also remains tight, DAT said, as the load-to-truck ratio for flatbeds remains above 80-to-one.