Today’s lanes to watch: Friday, December 3, 2021

Takeaways for today's lanes:

  • Brokers should lower their bids in the Harrisburg to Chicago lane in light of declining dry van spot rates.

  • Seattle to Chicago capacity is likely to tighten further in the days ahead as the Headhaul Index surges a massive 50% week-over-week.

  • Elizabeth capacity tightens, pushing spot rates higher to Columbus.

Harrisburg to Chicago – Brokers should lower their bids in light of declining dry van spot rates.

SONAR Market Dashboard: Harrisburg to Chicago


  • Typically a tighter lane than most, the van tender rejection rate in the Harrisburg to Chicago lane has been on a downward trajectory this fall from over 30% to 20.6% currently, now within 100 basis points of the national van tender rejection rate of 19.7%.

  • The dry van spot rate in SONAR Market Dashboard, which reflects what brokers and 3PLs are currently paying for dry van truckload capacity, has declined in the past month from $2.61/mile, including fuel, to $2.54/mile, including fuel.

  • The most recent door-to-door intermodal spot rate from nearby Chambersburg to Chicago is $2.05, including fuel, which places it 19% below the average dry van truckload rate shown in Market Dashboard.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: Lower your bids in the lane to reflect the loosening capacity and falling dry van spot rates. When bidding for capacity, keep in mind that the spot rates paid by brokers shown in SONAR Market Dashboard for average, high (67th percentile), and low (33rd percentile) rates are $2.54/mile. $2.77/mile and $2.37/mile, respectively. All rates include fuel surcharges.

Carriers: Likely reflecting shifts in capacity following Thanksgiving, the latest SONAR stats show that Chicago is a less desirable destination for carriers than it had been in recent weeks. The Chicago outbound tender rejection rate declined from 20% to 18% and the Chicago Van Headhaul Index declined from 55 to 17 as outbound Chicago demand dropped faster than inbound Chicago demand.

Shippers: With this lane showing signs of loosening, shippers have better options than they often do. Shippers may want to explore using domestic rail intermodal for shipments that are less time-sensitive given current rates. For shipments that are more timesensitive, keep lead times extended past the 3.2-day average for all outbound Harrisburg van loads to help secure capacity.

Seattle to Chicago - Rejections already up 320 bps week-over-week, as Seattle outbound volumes are positioned to retest their all time highs before the end of 2021.



  • Seattle outbound tender volumes are down 18% w/w, signaling that demand for outbound capacity is still down significantly from the lead up to “Black Friday.”

  • The Headhaul Index in Seattle is up 50% w/w, signaling that capacity is likely to tighten further in the coming days.

  • Seattle outbound tender rejections are up 320 bps w/w, signaling that capacity is likely already slightly tightening as a result of the rise in outbound volumes.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: Even though Seattle outbound tender volumes have decreased 18% w/w, they are expected to rebound in the coming week. With the 50% increase in the Headhaul Index, and outbound tender rejections up 320 bps w/w, the major imbalance between inbound and outbound volumes is still likely to drive rejections even higher.

Carriers: Stay firm on your rates on outbound Seattle lanes as the decrease of 18% w/w in outbound tender volumes is likely to be short lived. Outbound volumes for dry vans could even break a new record before the end of the year, and if that is to happen, we can expect that capacity will tighten significantly since the 50% increase w/w in the Headhaul Index and 320 bps increase in outbound rejections are already signaling that capacity is highly likely to tighten further in the days ahead.

Shippers: Your shipper cohorts in Seattle are averaging 2.8 days in tender lead times, which are down from 3.1 days last week. Even though they have experienced a slight decrease w/w, with outbound tender volumes likely to move closer to an all time high in the coming weeks, it would be wise to keep your tender lead times between 3 and 4 days through the next couple of weeks to ensure you are able to secure capacity in the market.

Elizabeth to Columbus – Elizabeth rejection rates spiking after the holiday period.



  • Elizabeth’s outbound rejection rate has jumped from 14% to near 18% over the past week.

  • Have not moved much over the past month, bouncing between 23 and 25%.

  • Columbus’ outbound rejection rates have increased 3 percentage points to 23.5% over the past three days.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: Pad margins by a few cents per mile when uncertain in this lane. Rejection rates spiking out of a market are signs of strong disruption, especially in a larger market. This should be a relatively favorable lane for a carrier in terms of direction and reload potential, but traffic congestion makes this a very inefficient mileage at times.

Carriers: Watch for increasing spot market activity in this lane where spot rates are running just over $1400 per load on average. Divert capacity accordingly. Columbus activity is increasing, meaning reload potential should be on the rise as well.

Shippers: Consider increasing rates in this lane if your compliance is below 75%. Check in with your carriers for any loads scheduled for pickup out of Elizabeth today.

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