Trucker demand on the West Coast with the port backlog: Update

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As DAT posted its weekly update on national average spot rates by segment …

DAT trendlines late February 2015

…the company also offered a bit of an update on the situation out west with the port backlog.

As of last week Tuesday, Los Angeles outbound was showing a load-to-truck ratio of 0.7, improved from the prior week when we reported on the abysmal demand situation for freight haulers in the spot market there. Nearby Ontario, Calif., stood lower at 0.4, Oakland and Seattle “improved” at 0.7, and Stockton, Calif. at 0.3.

The company considers a balance load-to-truck ratio for DAT boards to be in the neighborhood of 2.5, as reported previously.

The containers making up the backlog began to move with the news February 21 that longshoremen’s unions and management had reached an agreement. However, those 40-foot and 20-foot boxes, “have to get drayed to a warehouse and unloaded,” DAT emphasizes. “Plus, in many cases, [they] go through customs clearance before outbound trucking occurs. Typically this is a 25- to 41-day cycle. Also, contract capacity needs to get soaked up before freight hits the spot market in quantity.”

The spot market may “really heat up in mid-March,” DAT said. In the short term, “it’d still brutal for truckers on the West Coast.”

What are you seeing? From a national perspective, capacity fell and load availability rose nearly 10 percent each during the week ending Feb. 21 as rates held, all of which could portend good things.