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West Coast Truckload Rates in Quiet Before the Expected Demand Storm

(DC Velocity)

Spot truckload rates off the West Coast will remain depressed for at least the next few weeks as labor and management working the 29 ports impacted by a recently ended nine-month contract impasse struggle to reduce immense backlogs of idled cargo, a consultancy forecast yesterday.

According to DAT Solutions, which tracks spot, or noncontract, rates nationwide, it could take between 25 and 41 days for the large number of 20- and 40-foot containers to be drayed to a warehouse, unloaded and, in many cases, cleared through customs. In addition, contract truck capacity would first need to be absorbed before sizable volumes can hit the spot market, said Mark Montague, an analyst for DAT.

West Coast truckload rates, which became severely depressed in recent weeks as loads dried up due to the port gridlock, will probably stay weak until the process runs its course, Montague said. As of yesterday, DAT's load-to-truck ratio, which measures the number of available loads per truck, was at 0.7 in Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle; 0.4 in Stockton, Calif., and 0.3 in Ontario, Calif. Those numbers mean there is only one available load for each truck, as low a number as a trucker can work from. Click here to read more.