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SONAR Sightings for Aug. 8: San Antonio outbound volume exceeds inbound for 1st time

The highlights from Monday’s SONAR reports are below. For more information on SONAR — the fastest freight-forecasting platform in the industry — or to request a demo, click here. Also, be sure to check out the latest SONAR update, TRAC — the freshest spot rate data in the industry.

Market watch

San Antonio

Outbound freight volumes are making a comeback across the Lone Star State. For the first time on record, outbound tender volumes have surpassed inbound levels in San Antonio. Adding heat to the blistering August temperatures, outbound volumes in Austin and Houston are at their highest levels since FreightWaves SONAR began tracking the data in 2018.

The summer surge of outbound loads moving out of San Antonio brings its Headhaul Index into the positive for the first time since FreightWaves SONAR began tracking the mark to 2.5, but outbound rejections have yet to react, remaining stagnant at 1.9%.


Less than 100 miles away, Austin is seeing outbound volumes catch up to its inbound volumes, up 38.4% in the last five days, bringing its Headhaul Index to minus 11.7. However, as in San Antonio, rejection rates remain inactive at 4.9%, like a lazy dog in the summer Texas heat.


Moving south to the Gulf of Mexico, outbound volumes in Houston have reached highs not seen before. In the final days of July and into the beginning of August, import volumes to Port Houston have risen 11.4%, followed by a 12.5% boost in outbound truckload volumes. However, import volumes to Houston are now beginning to fall dramatically, so it will be interesting to see how these truckload volumes hold up — if at all — in the days to come.

The sudden surge in outbound freight volumes pushed rejection rates above the national average to nearly 7% before leveling back down to 6%, indicating that there is plenty of capacity in Houston to absorb the extra freight.

SONAR Tickers: CSTM.HOU, OTVI.HOU with “Dual” display

Elizabeth, New Jersey

Last week we looked at the mismatch between import volumes in the ports of New York and New Jersey and outbound volumes in Elizabeth, but this week the import volumes have caught up with the trucking market.

Outbound truckload volumes in Elizabeth are up 23.1% since last Tuesday, tightening capacity and pushing rejection rates upward 75 basis points to 6%. Inbound volumes to Elizabeth have been heating up over the last 90 days, but the added mix of imported freight being unloaded on the East Coast has raised the Headhaul Index exponentially to a 428% increase in August to 37.6.

SONAR Tickers: CSTM.EWR, OTVI.EWR with “Dual” display

NTI as a point of reference

The National Truckload Index is a daily look at how spot rates in specific lanes hold up in comparison to the national average, giving carriers and brokers an idea of which lanes to gravitate toward or avoid.

NTI Daily

Lane to watch: Dallas to Houston

Spot market rates from Houston to Dallas remain elevated so far this month. Ranging anywhere between $3.17 and $3.55 a mile, carriers can make well above the national average for spot rates in very little transit time.

Dallas is the major headhaul market in the state of Texas, and if carriers were able to book a load going back to Houston, average rates are at $2.87 a mile for a return trip. These factors make this a felicitous lane for carriers now that the national average for spot rates has dropped while the price of diesel continues to rise.

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Corey Smith

Corey is a staff writer for FreightWaves with experience in air, intermodal and parcel operations, as well as LTL and full truckload transportation management. He is a graduate of the University of Memphis, majoring in supply chain management, and enjoys basketball, cinema and traveling.