Spot freight rates down, but not as much as usual, to open 2024

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Jan. 15, 2024:

If you're headed into a snowy area North, South, East or West this week, you can keep tabs on new road updates via Overdrive's Roads 511 list on X/Twitter aggregating state DOTs' 511 and other travel-info services.

Rates saw muted decline in first week of ‘24

Broker-posted rates in the Truckstop system fell during the week ended Jan. 5, as they always do during the first week of the year, though the fall was the smallest for the beginning of a year since 2018. That’s according to the weekly spot update from FTR Transportation Intelligence and the Truckstop load board.

Refrigerated spot rates gave back less than 20% of their gains in the prior two weeks, and the decline in dry van spot rates was barely more than a penny. Flatbed spot rates, which usually decline in the first week of the year, rose slightly. Total load volume was up sharply.

ftr-truckstop-rates-1-5-24

The total broker-posted rate during the week decreased 7.4 cents after rising nearly 10 cents during the previous week. Rates were nearly 11% below the same 2023 week and about 6% below the five-year average.

Spot rates always fall during the first week of the year as capacity starts to normalize past the holidays, but the decrease was the smallest since the first week of 2018, which was just a couple of weeks after the electronic logging device mandate took effect.

Load volume on the spot market was down about 28% compared to the same 2023 week and was around 37% below the five-year average. Truck postings increased 7%, and the total Market Demand Index -- the ratio of loads to trucks -- rose its highest level since the week of the International Roadcheck inspection event in May.

[Related: ELD day: On the ground at a Kentucky scale house as truckers, inspectors adjust to new logs reality]

Texas gets $70M to build hydrogen fueling stations

The Biden-Harris Administration last week announced $623 million in grants to help build out an electric vehicle (EV) charging network across the U.S.

As part of that funding, the the North Central Texas Council of Governments will receive $70 million to build up to five hydrogen fueling stations for medium- and heavy-duty trucks in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. The project will help create a hydrogen corridor from southern California to Texas, the Federal Highway Administration said in a press release.

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The grants come by way of the 2021 infrastructure legislation's $2.5 billion Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program, a competitive funding program, and will fund 47 EV charging and alternative-fueling infrastructure projects in 22 states and Puerto Rico, including construction of approximately 7,500 EV charging ports. 

The city of Blythe, California, will also receive $19.6 million for a WattEV truck charging terminal.

[Related: With CARB ZEV deadline looming, port dray haulers turn to battery-electric trucks]

TEL donates truck to mobile medical clinic

TEL truck donation to RAMTransport Enterprise Leasing's David Bellner (left) hands over the 2022 Freightliner Cascadia's keys to Chris Hall (center) and John Volpe of Remote Area Medical.Transport Enterprise Leasing

Transport Enterprise Leasing (TEL) has donated a 2022 Freightliner Cascadia to Remote Area Medical (RAM) to power the nonprofit’s free pop-up clinics, announced Victor Duggard, chief financial officer of TEL.

The truck, valued at $85,000, will transport RAM’s mobile clinic to locations throughout the region where the charity provides medical, dental and vision care to the uninsured and underserved. 

“There is a tremendous need for medical services for individuals without insurance or the money to get medical services in our society. This is where RAM fills the void,” said TEL CFO Victor Duggard. “Partnering with a great organization like this is a great way for us to give back in our community.”

Dozens of clinics are scheduled for the coming months in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and in states as far away as Alaska.

“RAM is grateful for this generous donation from Transport Enterprise Leasing,” said Chris Hall, chief operations officer. “This commercial truck will allow us to continue to provide free, quality healthcare to those in need across the United States. As we expand our services and number of clinics, our fleet of tractor-trailers becomes an ever-growing, important aspect of delivering the care that countless individuals are seeking. Barriers exist for our patients in many different ways. With this truck, we are able to continue to remove those barriers that stand in the way of access to healthcare.”