3 Reasons Why Van Rates Are Still High

Spot market rates have been climbing steadily again after a slight lull four weeks ago. Three things have been keeping pressure on rates to stay high.

First is the impending ELD mandate, which has added some extra volatility to the spot market. Second is fuel prices. Last week the average cost for a gallon of diesel was $2.91 per gallon, 49¢ higher than a year ago. That adds to carriers’ costs, of course, so they negotiate harder on the total rate when the fuel surcharge is not broken out.

The third factor driving rates is the exceptional demand for trucks. Last week, a record high number of van loads moved on the top 100 lanes.

Volumes surged out of Houston and Stockton, CA last week. Los Angeles is still number one for van loads, and the counts there keep climbing thanks to high demand on eastbound lanes. All the major West Coast van markets led the way for rising van rates, and prices out of Memphis also got a boost.

All rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between brokers and carriers.


It’s not often that a lane that competes heavily with intermodal sees the biggest jump in rates, but that’s what happened last week on the lane from L.A. to Dallas. Van rates on that lane soared 25¢ to an average of $2.55/mile, which is very high when truckers are competing with railroads.

  • Memphis to Atlanta was up 23¢ at $2.79/mile
  • Memphis to Columbus also gained 22¢ at $2.36/mile
  • Buffalo to Columbus jumped up 20¢ to $2.22/mile


We’re in the retail season for freight, which leads to higher demand on inbound lanes to the Northeast. As a result, outbound rates fell in places like Philadelphia.

There was a trio of big drops last week, but rates on these lanes are still pretty high:

  • Philly to Buffalo tumbled 37¢ to $2.60/mile
  • Columbus, OH to Allentown, PA also dropped 16¢ to $3.34/mile
  • Columbus to Buffalo fell 15¢ to $3.15/mile

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