Holding pattern: Van, reefer rates flat nationally but some markets heat up

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Van and reefer rates were mostly in a holding pattern last week on the spot market, DAT reports, after the decent rate/volume performance for flats and van noted in last week’s market update:

The national averages for both reefers and vans stayed the same as the previous week: $1.64 per mile for vans, and $1.93 per mile for reefers.

This stability held, despite a 1¢ decline in the average fuel surcharge, meaning base linehaul rates nudged up a bit.

Reefer trends will likely have a big influence on van rates in August. If apple harvests are strong, van rates will tend to rise, as fewer reefer trucks compete for van loads. All in all, we’re seeing positive trends as we get closer to the fall freight season.

Most price changes on the top 100 van lanes were minor, but demand on regional lanes boosted load-to-truck ratios in the Northeast. Rates on the lane from Buffalo to Allentown, Pa.¸ were up 13 cents to an average of $2.59 per mile. The Midwest has also been improving, with outbound prices up in both Columbus and Chicago. The lane from Columbus to Memphis was up 22 cents, a good sign for retail traffic. Almost every major outbound lane from Memphis paid better last week. On the flip side, prices keep falling in Atlanta and Dallas. Those markets are numbers 1 and 2 for load posts on DAT Load Boards, but they’re also numbers 2 and 3 for truck posts. That extra competition for loads has kept rates from going up.Most price changes on the top 100 van lanes were minor, but demand on regional lanes boosted load-to-truck ratios in the Northeast. Rates on the lane from Buffalo to Allentown, Pa.¸ were up 13 cents to an average of $2.59 per mile. The Midwest has also been improving, with outbound prices up in both Columbus and Chicago. The lane from Columbus to Memphis was up 22 cents, a good sign for retail traffic. Almost every major outbound lane from Memphis paid better last week. On the flip side, prices keep falling in Atlanta and Dallas. Those markets are numbers 1 and 2 for load posts on DAT Load Boards, but they’re also numbers 2 and 3 for truck posts. That extra competition for loads has kept rates from going up. Demand was up for reefers last week, even though there seem to be plenty of trucks in most locations. Outbound volume and rates got a bump in Ontario, Calif., and prices surged out of Elizabeth, N.J. Apples have already started rolling out of Grand Rapids, Mich., which could lead to higher rates soon. Florida is in the off-season, so if you’re hauling into Miami, you’ll need to make your money on the way down. When you’re lucky enough to find a load out, it probably won’t pay much. Prices also tumbled out of Nogales, Ariz., near the Mexican border.Demand was up for reefers last week, even though there seem to be plenty of trucks in most locations. Outbound volume and rates got a bump in Ontario, Calif., and prices surged out of Elizabeth, N.J. Apples have already started rolling out of Grand Rapids, Mich., which could lead to higher rates soon. Florida is in the off-season, so if you’re hauling into Miami, you’ll need to make your money on the way down. When you’re lucky enough to find a load out, it probably won’t pay much. Prices also tumbled out of Nogales, Ariz., near the Mexican border.

As noted above, Buffalo, N.Y., to Allentown, Pa., is a great roundtrip all things considered, the average rate per mile up to $2.20 for vans. The length of haul is 674 miles for the roundtrip. That would be great mileage for a one-day trip, but you probably can’t do the full 674 in a single day with loading and unloading. If you want to add more loaded miles on that second day, there are several options for a well-paying two-leg route on the return.

Consider a run from Allentown west to Pittsburgh, closing the loop from Pittsburgh on a relatively short hop, 219 miles, back to Buffalo. Based on recent averages, the three-leg round would bring in $2,100 instead of the $1,500 that you’d get for a straight round trip. You shouldn’t have a hard time finding loads for any of the three legs, and the rates are trending up on all three lanes. Examine further details in the graph below.

DAT-trihaul-van-allentown-buffalo-pittsburgh-August-12-2016

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