Van Rates Respond to Seasonal Slowdown

Van rates continued to moderate last week, and van load posts declined as we moved into February. Prices are still above the peak for 2017, but the extreme highs in the van segment are declining as we transition into what is usually the slowest month on the spot market.

The drop in truck load volumes has led to more competition for freight, and the van load-to-truck ratio has dropped back down to where it was before the ELD mandate went into effect. Some of the large contract carriers have also reserved more of their trucks for the spot market in order to take advantage of the higher spot rates, which contributes to the increased competition.

The national ratio of 6.9 loads per truck is still high, though.

As you can tell from the Hot States Map up above, the West Coast is much softer than a month ago. And like we were saying a last week, Chinese New Year may also slow down imports coming into the West Coast ports later this month.

A big swath of the country saw falling van rates last week. The one exception was in Buffalo. Canadian freight has been accelerating into the U.S., and Buffalo is the top gateway from Canada. Volumes also rose in Seattle, with more stable pricing after a month of sharp declines.

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


Only two major van lanes were up more than 6¢

  • Buffalo to Chicago rose the most, up 30¢ to an average of $2.32/mile – rates in the opposite direction were down, though
  • Memphis to Charlotte was up 9¢ to $2.53/mile


Chicago’s outbound average had the sharpest decline last week. On a lane-by-lane basis, inbound Buffalo lanes fell the most, adjusting to the higher outbound demand.

  • Philadelphia to Buffalo was down 29¢ at $2.98/mile
  • Chicago to Buffalo lost 26¢ to $3.30/mile
  • Charlotte to Buffalo also dropped 25¢ to $2.86/mile
  • The biggest decline was out West, though: Denver to Albuquerque, NM, fell 35¢ to $2.18/mile

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