Today’s Pickup: Rates drop as capacity increases

 The availability of more trucks and seasonality helped drive down rates last week. ( Photo: Shutterstock )
The availability of more trucks and seasonality helped drive down rates last week. ( Photo: Shutterstock )

Good day,

Seasonality has finally hit van rates as available loads dropped 6% last week, according to DAT. Trucks posted on DAT’s load board network also increased 3%, helping pushing down van rates 3 cents to $2.23 per mile and 8 cents for reefers to $2.59 per mile. Flatbed rates also dropped, falling 13 cents to $2.26 per mile.

Load to truck ratios for the week were 6.9 for vans, 61.1 for flatbed and 10.2 for refrigerated. “Heading into what is traditionally a slow month, the number of van loads posted declined 16% and truck posts rose 4%,” DAT said. “Van rates fell in nearly every major market, although prices are higher than they were a year ago. Chicago’s outbound average had the sharpest decline last week, down 16 cents to $2.77 per mile after a 15-cent drop the previous week.”

Houston saw a 6 cent drop to $2 per mile while Los Angeles fell 9 cents to $2.32 and Columbus, OH, was down 8 cents to $2.29 per mile.

Reefer load posts fell 19% and truck posts increased 2%. “Prices remain high even though rates on most high-traffic lanes were down,” DAT said. “Long-haul lanes from the southern border took big steps back, including McAllen, Texas-Elizabeth, N.J. (down 51 cents to $2.76/mile) and Nogales, Arizona, to Brooklyn (down 79 cents to $2.43/mile).”

Spot prices for flatbed freight remain solid amid improved demand for capacity. Load posts increased 13% and truck posts declined 2%; the 61.9 load-to-truck is the second highest flatbed load-to-truck ratio seen in years.

Did you know?

According to a NATSO study of rest stops in 13 states, there are 6.57 truck parking spaces per mile in states along non-commercialized interstate segments while there are only 3.88 spaces per mile along commercialized interstate segments.


“This analysis confirms NATSO’s 2010 findings that there is a significant negative correlation between rest area commercialization and truck parking per roadway mile. This updated report finds that there are 69 percent more truck parking spaces per mile on interstate highways without commercialized rest areas than on those interstates with commercial rest areas.”

– NATSO report on the commercialization of travel plazas

In other news:

Warehouse space disappearing

Available warehouse continues to shrink according to JLL, with vacancy rates dropping to an all-time low of 5% in the fourth quarter. (Modern Materials Handling)

Trade deficit jumps

The U.S. trade deficit reached its highest level in nine years, climbing 12% in 2017 led by Pacific shipping, which rose 6.7%. (Wall Street Journal)

Embark self-driving truck completes cross-country trial

Embark’s self-driving truck has completed a 2,400-mile trip across the country, with only minimal intervention. (Tech Crunch)

ATA president reiterates call for fuel tax

ATA President Chris Spear, writing in an editorial, says the Build America Fund—a new 20 cent per gallon fee – should be built into the price of transportation fuels collected from wholesalers. (Washington Examiner)

Trump to release infrastructure plan Monday

President Donald Trump is expected to release his long-awaited infrastructure proposal on Monday, officials said. (The Hill)

Final Thoughts

DAT reported available trucks increased last week and spot prices slide slightly across the board as seasonality has begun to take hold. It is also possible that the industry is finally adjusting to the ELD rule, although one week’s worth of data is not enough to determine a trend, it bears watching.

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.