Current trends in freight can be explained by looking at the top ten contract markets by percentage of contract-spot mix. For the last six weeks, rates have been sliding on the spot market despite strong volumes for the January-February period. The culprit may well be weakness in contract markets in the Southwest region of the United States.
 
Top markets for van freight
 
For van freight, the top two contract markets are in southern California. Los Angeles is #1 and Ontario is #2 for the most loads in 2016. For the markets with the highest ratio of contract freight to spot market freight you will find Albuquerque, NM, Flagstaff, AZ, and San Diego, CA.


Current trends in freight can be explained by looking at the top ten contract markets by percentage of contract-spot mix. For the last six weeks, rates have been sliding on the spot market despite strong volumes for the January-February period. The culprit may well be weakness in contract markets in the Southwest region of the United States.
 
Top markets for van freight
 
For van freight, the top two contract markets are in southern California. Los Angeles is #1 and Ontario is #2 for the most loads in 2016. For the markets with the highest ratio of contract freight to spot market freight you will find Albuquerque, NM, Flagstaff, AZ, and San Diego, CA.


Checking out the top ten refrigerated markets, we again find a RateView-defined southern California market at #1: Ontario, CA. The Ontario market encompasses the Inland Empire District, Coachella and Imperial Valleys of California. This market has been slow to get underway for leafy greens this winter. The adjacent market, which includes Yuma, AZ, has been plagued with mildew problems, cutting produce yields. Heavy rainfall, flooding, and landslides in the region haven’t helped.
 
 Top markets for flatbed freight
 
I also took a look at where the most flatbed loads originate. The finding here is that Texas and the Midwest play most prominently in the flatbed segment. None of the top ten flatbed contract markets are in the West. Los Angeles ranks #8 for spot market flatbed loads, behind Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth in Texas; also behind Chicago, Cleveland, and surprising South Bend, IN in the Midwest.


Flatbed freight has been the clear winner so far in 2017 for improvement in load-truck ratios and rates. It’s also defining the regions, as the eastern half of the country has held up better lately than the West, which is dominated more by van and refrigerated freight.

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About Mark Montague

As a mathematician and statistician, Mark Montague has spent decades developing and implementing consistent, market-driven rate structures for transportation companies. Mark was instrumental in developing the dynamic, spot market rates database and analysis tools in DAT RateView (formerly Truckload Rate Index.) Prior to joining DAT in 2009, Mark applied his expertise in logistics, rates and routing as a logistics manager and analyst for carriers, 3PLs and shippers. Mark holds an MBA in Transportation Management from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

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