Van overview: Brokers and shippers have had an easier time finding trucks in recent weeks, at least when compared to the first half of the year. That’s taken some of the pressure off of pricing, but rates are still high on a year-over-year basis. Overall, van volumes have settled to around the same level as 2017, but the national ratio of 6.9 van loads per truck is much higher than a year ago. The ratio for August 2017 was 5.2.
Hot markets: Van load counts were on the rise out of Los Angeles and Atlanta, but that was offset by declines out of Texas (more on that below). Prices were down in most major markets last week, but rates in the Midwest held up the best. With the lack of urgency for long-haul freight Sullivan mentioned earlier, a lot of shipping has moved over to rail. The increases we did see were on regional lanes like Columbus, Ohio, to Buffalo, N.Y., which was up 23 cents to an average of $3.77 per mile.
Not so hot: Outbound van rates from Dallas and Houston have fallen more than 10 percent in the past month. Pipelines are filled to capacity in the West Texas oilfields, leading to a slowdown in drilling. Steel tariffs have also made new pipeline projects more expensive, since it’s not easy to source domestically.
Part of the softening demand in reefer this past week is that freight moves out of California have stalled, perhaps hampered by wildfires and the heat wave. As a result, the California volumes weren’t there to offset the declines in other parts of the country, which led to more available trucks.
Hot markets: Melon shipments bolstered load counts from McAllen, Texas, down near the Mexico border. Apple season also boosted volumes out of Upper Midwest markets like Green Bay, Wis., and Grand Rapids, Mich. From a pricing standpoint, Elizabeth, N.J., was the only major reefer market with rates trending upward.
Not so hot: Two of the biggest declines were out of California. The average rate from Fresno to Seattle dropped 24 cents to $3.41 per mile. Sacramento to Portland, Ore., fell 21 cents but still averaged $3.90 per mile.