Are there finally signs of life for van rates?

Summer is right around the corner, but many carriers are still waiting for spot market rates to rebound ahead of what’s typically the peak shipping season in June. So far, van rates haven’t moved up as expected in May. The national average currently sits at $1.80 per mile, which is 1¢ lower than the April average.

On the upside, rates rose on 54 of the top 100 lanes last week, which is a hopeful sign. There could be a greater sense of urgency this week. The end-of-month rush coincides with a four-day week, to give rates an additional boost in many markets.

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The national average load-to-truck ratio rose to 1.8 van loads per truck last week, which is still below par for the season.

Rising Rates

The Southeast is still the hottest region, led by the Atlanta market, which boasted the highest number of load posts in the country last week. Van rates declined on lanes connecting Atlanta with Florida markets, but prices increased on the northbound lanes from Georgia. Rates between Atlanta and Memphis also rose in both directions. Rates also climbed out of L.A. and Dallas, with Denver rates bouncing back from a drop in the previous week.

  • Los Angeles to Denver was up 17¢ to $2.50/mi.
  • L.A. to Seattle increased 13¢ to $2.39/mi., but the return trip lost 14¢, so it’s a wash.
  • Philadelphia to Buffalo rebounded 14¢ to $2.16/mi. and the return trip added 4¢ to $2.69/mi., for a nice increase on the roundtrip rate.

Falling Rates

Pricing out of the Northeast and Midwest seemed to stabilize last week, though both regions have seen rates declining seasonally throughout the past month. Apart from that increase from Philly to Buffalo, other key lanes lost traction heading toward the Canadian border:

  • Columbus to Buffalo dropped 17¢ to $2.57/mi.  
  • Charlotte to Buffalo was down 14¢ to $2.18/mi., but Buffalo to Charlotte gained 6¢ to $1.86/mi., so the roundtrip rate is still pretty solid.


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Find loads, trucks and lane-by-lane rate information in DAT load boards, including rates from DAT RateView.