Today’s Lanes to Watch:

Friday, July 30, 2021

Takeaways for today's lanes:

Spot shippers in the Chicago to Atlanta lane should use truckload over intermodal in light of current intermodal capacity constraints

Capacity from Los Angeles to Kansas City is likely to tighten quickly as rail volumes inevitably spill over into the truckload market.

Houston tightens rapidly while Oklahoma City has become a soft spot in the national market.

Chicago to Atlanta – Spot shippers should use truckload over intermodal in light of current intermodal capacity constraints.


The tender rejection rate in the lane is 24.3%, well above the 19.2% tender rejection rate for all outbound Chicago loads.

The truckload spot rate increased in the past week from $2.95/mile, including fuel surcharges, to $3.14/mile, also including fuel surcharges. Meanwhile, the domestic door-to-door intermodal spot rate is only 2.5% below that at $3.06/mile, including fuel surcharges.

The Chicago intermodal outbound tender rejection rate jumped from 2% to 10% in the past few days.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: Carriers have become more willing to head to Atlanta in recent days with the Atlanta Inbound Tender Reject Index declining from nearly 30% in the second week of July to 25% currently. So, you may want to lower your bids to preserve your margin in the lane.

Carriers: Highway carriers may be in a little bit better position than they are typically in this lane given the current difficulty shippers are having with intermodal congestion. Atlanta is a solid destination for carriers with an outbound tender rejection rate 110 basis points (bps) higher than the national average and with a Van Headhaul Index of 42, suggesting that it should be easy for carriers to get reloaded.

Shippers: Intermodal does not look worthwhile for spot shippers with intermodal and truckload spot rates nearly at parity. Intermodal could also be problematic for shippers moving loads under contract with the Chicago intermodal outbound tender rejection rate surging in the past few days (likely due to terminal congestion in Chicago).

Los Angeles to Kansas City – Capacity is likely to tighten quickly as rail volumes inevitably spill over into the truckload market.


Los Angeles outbound tender volumes are up 6% week-over-week (w/w), signaling that demand for outbound capacity is rising as rail volumes hit the truckload market.

The Headhaul Index in Los Angeles is up 12% w/w, signaling that capacity is likely to tighten further as volumes become increasingly imbalanced.

Los Angeles outbound tender rejections are down 59 bps w/w, but that is likely to change as outbound volumes rise relative to available truckload capacity.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: With the major inland rail options causing massive delays for import shipments, these volumes have inevitably pushed over into the spot truckload market. These “spillover” volumes from railroads, in addition to the expected, elevated truckload volumes for peak season are likely to put significant upward pressure on spot rates in the coming weeks and months.

Carriers: The rail volumes that are being shifted into the truckload market are shifting pricing power further in your favor. With shippers unable to afford possible rail delays, they are likely to shift their international volumes from the rail to the truckload market for the move to major inland U.S. markets. Peak season import volumes are already boosting inbound TEU volumes, so the truckload market in Los Angeles is well poised for a major tightening of capacity in the months to come.

Shippers: With rail delays posing a major risk to importers moving volumes to the inland U.S., many of your shipper cohorts will likely choose to terminate their freight in SoCal and truck it from there. These additional volumes, along with the pent-up demand that already exists in this market, are likely to catch many off guard when capacity starts to rapidly tighten. Getting your outbound tender lead times to between 3.5 and 4 days (or further) as soon as possible will also help relieve some of the pressure on capacity you are going to see in the weeks/months ahead.

Houston to Oklahoma City – Rejection rates spike once again in Houston.


Houston’s outbound tender rejection rate has spiked from under 16% to over 19% in the past four days.

Lane-specific rejection rates to Oklahoma City have followed suit, moving similarly from 19% to 21% over the past two days.

Oklahoma City capacity has eased significantly over the past month with outbound rejection rates falling from 19% to 10.5% since June 25. It has also become more heavily oversupplied as its Headhaul Index has fallen below -30.

What does this mean for you?

Brokers: Expect upward pressure on spot rates in this lane with loads being much more difficult to cover this week compared to last. Pad margins where appropriate because Houston has experienced the most significant tightening in the U.S. over the past week with Oklahoma City becoming a much less favorable destination.

Carriers: Accept more loads into the Houston market with capacity tightening rapidly. Divert capacity to the spot market in this lane as the Oklahoma City market has become much softer over the past month. Both markets remain softer than the national average in terms of tender rejections.

Shippers: Consider deepening the route guide or increasing rates if your compliance is below 80% in this lane. Houston has become much more volatile and Oklahoma City is becoming a much less favorable destination

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