Flatbed freight has been strong, especially considering it's only February. Volumes have been climbing steadily for weeks, which is about a month ahead of schedule. The national average flatbed rate has been rising steadily, too, but a lot of individual lanes have been up-and-down recently, depending on weather.
Darker-colored states have higher load-to-truck ratios, meaning that there's less competition for flatbed loads in those states.
Higher volumes in Southeast and Northeast have been driving much of the action for the past month, but higher volumes on a couple of lanes associated with oil production have also been key. Pittsburgh to Houston has been a busy lane, and so has Houston to El Paso. The El Paso market includes the Permian Basin, where there’s drilling activity going on.
Outbound flatbed rates in Pittsburgh have also surged in February.
NOT SO HOT
There’s still a lot of competition for flatbed loads in California, and rates have trended down in Los Angeles for the past month. Rates were also down out of Jacksonville and Savannah. All three are port cities, so lower outbound rates could be a sign of stronger exports than imports.
As mentioned before, there’s more flatbed freight moving from Houston to El Paso thanks to oil production in the Permian Basin. That’s led to better paying loads out of Houston, but it’s also pushed rates down on the lane from El Paso to Houston. There are several TriHaul options for carriers that’ll let you avoid the cheapest freight, and you don’t even have to leave Texas.
One option is to take a load from El Paso to Dallas. That lane only paid an average of $1.53/mile last week, but it’s better than the $1.11/mile average on the lane to Houston. You shouldn’t have much of a problem finding a load going from Dallas to Houston, and even if you negotiate just for the average rate on each leg of the TriHaul, you’d end up with an extra $563 on 140 extra miles, not counting deadhead. If hours are an issue, you might look into going to Austin instead of Dallas, which is a shorter roundtrip.
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