February is usually one of the slowest months for spot market freight, but demand started to pick up last week. The national average van rate was unchanged, at $1.58 per mile, so maybe that’s the bottom. We can’t wait for spring!
Van demand increased last week, and the average load-to-truck ratio rebounded slightly to 1.4 loads per truck. This may be the start of a long-awaited upward trend. Mississippi was a Hot State, with a load-to-truck ratio above 5.5 loads per truck. This week, however, Mississippi has already cooled off and Arkansas is heating up. Montana and Maine look hot, but they’re not. While there’s a shortage of trucks, there are not a lot of loads available in those states.
Van rates held steady at a national average of $1.58/mile last week, but that stability masked some regional churn. Outbound rates rose in Los Angeles, Dallas and Memphis but those gains were offset by declining rates in Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Buffalo.
TriHaul of the Week, for Vans: Stockton – Seattle – Portland – Stockton
You can take advantage of recent rate increases northbound out of Stockton, and pick up a load to Seattle that pays $1.86/mile for 800 miles. The challenge is to get out of Seattle without losing your shirt on the southbound trip. A load straight back to Stockton pays only $1.07/mile, if you can find one.
Minimize the pain by taking a series of shorter hauls: Seattle to Portland, at $2.25/mile, then Portland to Stockton for $1.13. If you have the time, you can even look for a load from Portland to Medford, in southern Oregon, and yet another one from Medford to Stockton. Be creative, but try to get your loads lined up in advance, so you don’t add a lot of deadhead miles.
Daily maps, along with detailed information on demand, capacity and rates for individual markets and lanes, can be found in the DAT Power load board. Rates and TriHaul route suggestions are derived from DAT RateView, a database of actual rate agreements between freight brokers and carriers.