Is the spot market sputtering or stabilizing?

At first glance, it looks like the van spot market took a step back last week. Rates fell in most of the top 100 van lanes, but the big drops were all in lanes where rates rose in the prior week due to snow that closed mountain passes on those routes. The core lanes from top markets remained constant.

One positive sign is that February van volumes are up almost 10% higher than last February, a month when rates are typically down.

Reefer volumes have fallen, though, and that’s also kept van rates in check since reefer trucks compete for van freight during slow periods.

DAT load boards provide the largest and most trusted digital freight marketplace in the trucking industry, with more than 256 million loads and trucks posted annually, plus insights into current spot market and contract rates based on $60 billion in real transactions.

The van load-to-truck ratio declined 10% last week to 4.3 loads per truck.


The reopening of Donner Pass in California and other passes in the Pacific Northwest led to a handful of lanes falling, while very few lanes showed an increase. Exceptions included:

  • Houston to New Orleans increased 12¢ to $2.32/mile — that may to attributed to Mardi Gras coming up soon
  • L.A. to Denver regained 10¢ to $2.32/mile, despite LA volumes being down because of Chinese New Year

Falling Rates

Sharp volume drops were seen from Stockton and Los Angeles, but that’s a residual effect from Chinese New Year, which ran from Feb. 5-20. Ocean volumes should start to hit U.S. shores in the next ten days. Almost all lanes out of Seattle had falling prices:

  • Seattle to Spokane returned to its prior level, dropping 30¢ to $3.24/mile
  • Seattle to Salt Lake City fell 17¢ to $1.70/mile
  • Seattle to Los Angeles was down 16¢ to $1.20/mile
  • Also out West, Stockton to Salt Lake City lost 13¢, declining to $2.34/mile

The reefer load-to-truck ratio dipped 5% last week to 5.5 loads per truck.


The nationwide trends of locally sourced fresh produce or alternate sourcing may be part of the explanation for lower reefer volumes.

Rising Rates

Notable lanes with higher rates last week included:

  • Denver to Houston had an unexpected rise, jumping 28¢ to $2.21/mile
  • McAllen, TX to Atlanta added 25¢ on solid volumes, rising to $2.46/mile
  • Lakeland, FL to Charlotte gained 19¢ to $1.65/mile

Falling Rates

The national average reefer rate has fallen for 7 straight weeks. Here are a few lanes that moved lower:

  • Nogales, Arizona to Dallas plunged 33¢ to $1.89/mile
  • Green Bay to Minneapolis fell 28¢ to $2.25/mile
  • Miami to Boston dropped 26¢ to $1.74/mile
  • Grand Rapids to Atlanta moved down 20¢ to $2.45/mile

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