A 5.6% increase in available van, refrigerated, and flatbed capacity was offset by a 5.6% decrease in available freight during the week ending Oct. 18, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.
Nationally, truckload market rates fell slightly compared to the previous week. The average van and flatbed rates each fell 2 cents, to $2.01 per mile for vans and $2.38 per mile for flatbeds (all figures include fuel surcharge). The average reefer rate lost 1 cent to $2.28 per mile.
Regionally, the average van rate is atypically high out of Los Angeles ($2.25 per mile), with rates from L.A. to Phoenix near the all-time peak average of $2.57 per mile on the strength of freight moving inland through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Average outbound van rates from Columbus, Ohio ($2.31 per mile), Dallas ($1.75 per mile), and Buffalo ($2.40 per mile) remained solid as well. The average rate from Memphis was $2.32 per mile, down 6 cents, while Atlanta was unchanged at $2.02 per mile.
In terms of market demand, van freight availability declined 2.9% while capacity increased 4.5%. The resulting load-to-truck ratio slid from 3.1 to 2.8, meaning there were 2.8 van loads posted for every van available on DAT load boards.
Reefer capacity increased 6.9% last week and freight availability dropped 4.9%, producing an 11% decline in the load-to-truck ratio. At 7.8 loads per truck, unusually strong seasonal demand in key regions has helped elevate the demand for capacity.
Flatbed capacity added 8.0% and load availability declined 8.6%. The flatbed load-to-truck ratio is now 21.9 loads per truck, down from 25.9 the previous week.
The national average fuel price fell again, off 4 cents to $3.66 per gallon. Declining fuel prices tend to have a dampening effect on market rates. When fuel prices slip, the surcharge drops and the total rate may decline accordingly.
Load-to-truck ratios represent the number of loads posted for every truck available on DAT load boards. The load-to-truck ratio is a sensitive, real-time indicator of the balance between spot market demand and capacity. Changes in the ratio often signal impending changes in rates.