Van Rates Showing Signs of Recovery

Spot market volumes exploded last week on the top 100 van lanes, which has been the clearest sign yet of recovery for vans. National average rates didn’t respond, but rates in those top 100 lanes added about $1.50 per load. That’s a very small change, but it’s a beginning.

Rates are trending up in the Southeast and some parts of California, but those increases are offset by sagging rates in the Northeast and the Midwest.

The darker states above have higher load-to-truck ratios, meaning there’s less competition for freight in those states.

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


Atlanta was the number one market for van loads on DAT Load Boards last week. Demand for reefers in Florida and southern Georgia spilled over into the van market. Memphis also rebounded last week. Vans were paid 13¢ more per mile on the lane from Memphis to Chicago, up to $1.62/mile. (That rate came down to $1.55 already this week, so there is a TriHaul opportunity there. See below.)


Early produce shipments in California are keeping reefers busy. That also boosts demand for vans, because carriers with reefers aren’t competing for the van loads. Stockton, CA bounced back from a slow week, and the lane to Denver recovered ▲16¢ to an average of $1.87/mile. That lane has been up and down all spring.


For the past month on DAT Load Boards, 3 of the top 5 markets for van loads were in Texas. Houston was number 2, while Dallas and Laredo were 4 and 5.


Things are still slow in the Northeast. Philadelphia had lackluster growth, and the lane from nearby Allentown to Boston dropped 14¢ to $2.71/mile. Allentown has been relatively weak this spring, but it could pick up soon.


We’re still waiting for a recovery in Chicago. Van traffic is low, rates are down, and they’re just not turning around. The average rate on the lane from Chicago to Allentown lost 14¢ to $1.89/mile.

As mentioned above, rates rose to $1.55/mile last week on the lane from Memphis to Chicago. That’s the backhaul direction; the southbound trip paid $1.96/mile last week, for a roundtrip average of $1.76. That’s not bad, but you can do even better with a TriHaul in the northbound direction. You have a few options.

One is to look for a load from Memphis to St. Louis, which paid $2.36/mile last week. A second load from St Louis to Chicago paid an average of $1.97/mile. Remember that straight shot from Memphis to Chicago is paying only $1.55, so this is a big improvement to an average of $2.16. You’re adding only 52 miles of driving, so if you are able to complete the TriHaul in two days, you’re golden. You’ll make about $450 more for the trip, or $2,305 for all loaded miles. Look for all your loads in advance, if you can.

See where demand for vans is highest with Hot Market Maps get TriHaul recommendations based on your searches in DAT Power™. See the average rates paid to carriers on more than 65,000 lanes with DAT RateView™. Call 800.551.8847 or email us for more info.