Van Rates Might Be Close to the Bottom, if They Aren't There Already

Load posts were up a bit again last week, which is the second straight week of improving spot market volumes. Not bad for February. Van and reefer rates have still been on a steady decline since the December peak, which is part of the normal seasonal pattern. The national average for flatbed rates has been trending the other way, and there are signs that van rates might be close to the bottom if they aren’t already there.

Load-to-truck ratios are highest for vans in the darker red areas on the Hot States Map, above.

Contract carriers have had a bad January and February, with volumes off in the Southwest. The combo of fewer loads and more trucks has pushed load-to-truck ratios way down in that region. So while this might be the bottom for van rates, we won’t know for sure until ratios start to improve out there.

Atlanta is the top market for van loads on DAT load boards, and volumes there were up 12% last week, which is another good sign.

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


  • Van loads going from Columbus to Buffalo paid an average of $2.62/mile last week, which was 15¢ higher than the week before
  • Buffalo to Allentown, PA, also averaged $2.62, up 12¢ from the previous week
  • The Chicago to Los Angeles lane rate averages only $1.28/mile, but that’s quite a bit higher than it was


  • Philly to Charlotte was down 17¢ to just $1.31/mile
  • Chicago to Denver also dropped 12¢ to $2.13/mile
  • Denver to Phoenix slipped 13¢ to $1.08/mile
  • Denver to Dallas also fell 12¢ to only $1.01/mile

Load-to-truck ratios are highest for reefers in the darker blue areas on the Hot States Map, above.

California, Arizona, and Idaho generally have robust winter volumes, but those key markets have been soft so far this year. That’s contributed to the recent plunge in reefer rates in some areas. California volumes have started to recover, but there’s no shortage of trucks. You can see in the map above that Florida also has a low load-to-truck ratio, but there there has been a burst of potato shipments in the southern part of the state that’s boosted prices out of Miami.


  • Miami to Elizabeth, NJ, surged 35¢ to $1.84/mile
  • Miami to Boston was up 33¢ to $1.99/mile
  • Miami to Atlanta also added 33¢ at $1.66/mile


  • Grand Rapids, MI to Cleveland lost 31¢ at $3.02/mile
  • Green Bay to Des Moines fell 27¢ to $1.92/mile
  • The lane from Twin Falls to Chicago dropped 27¢ to $1.63/mile


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

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