Shipping Freight To and From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A Closer Look


Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia has been an important city in American history and commerce. 

Today, Philadelphia is a vital city along the Eastern Seaboard. Located along the Delaware River, it’s a hub for both shipping and trucking. 

Philadelphia is one of the core cities within the Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) Van Network Lanes. Our focus is shipping goods in and around Philadelphia in enclosed trucks. With multiple drivers and trucks in the area on a daily basis, we’ve learned a lot of nuances of shipping to and from the City of Brotherly Love. 

Before you plan your next truckload of freight in or out of Philadelphia, learn more about industries that dominate shipping, key routes and pricing details. 

Key Industries That Influence Shipping in Philadelphia

Major industries in Philadelphia include finance, biotech, health care and information technology. It’s one of the nation’s top venture capital hubs, due largely to its proximity to New York City. 

Philadelphia is home to some of the nation’s prime real estate. Companies like IBM, Lockheed Martin, Proctor & Gamble and Exelon call Philadelphia home. It also hosts the U.S. headquarters of foreign companies like GlaxoSmithKline, IKEA USA and Subaru of America. 

The city is also central to the retail industry, housing companies like Burlington, Campbell Soup Company, DuPont, Urban Outfitters and Wawa. These companies, and others like them, generate dozens of retail shipments into, out of and around the city daily. 

Most retail shipments are moved on a dry van. While some large retailers use their own branded vehicles, the majority of retail freight is moved by a trucking company. They will be eager to move vans into Philadelphia (where outbound loads are plentiful) — driving down the price of inbound freight. 

With all these people and goods moving around the city, the transportation infrastructure of Philadelphia is vital to keeping the public safe. 

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Trucking Routes Around Philadelphia, PA

The city plan for Philadelphia was originally created by William Penn himself. Today, the original east-west streets (named after trees) and numbered north-south streets are joined by a network of highways busy with trucks, commuters and tourists. 

  • Interstate 95 (the Delaware Expressway) travels north and south along the Delaware River. This is the main route that connects Philadelphia with major metropolitan areas including Newark, New York City, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., as well as farther destinations like Miami and Maine.

  • I-76 is a primary east-west highway along the Schuylkill River in and around Philadelphia. The portion of this road in metro Philly is known as the Schuylkill Expressway. 

  • The Vine Street Expressway (Interstate 676) joins I-95 and I-76 through Center City. Entrance and exit ramps for the Benjamin Franklin Bridge are near the eastern end of the expressway, just west of the I-95 interchange.

  • I-276, also known as the Delaware River extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, bypasses the city and is a popular commuter route that runs north of Philly to New York and New Jersey. 

All these commuter routes mean that trucks, buses and cars are sharing these roads — which can sometimes get very congested. While Philly is designed for efficient traffic movement, be aware that all metropolitan cities are likely to have traffic jams at times. 

Your driver will create a daily route plan that’s intended to avoid congested parts of the city. When possible, work with your transportation provider to arrange delivery and pick-up times that allow the driver to make the most of their mandated daily drive time limits.

Understanding the routes in, out and around Philadelphia is one part of knowing how to get around the city. In trucking, knowing nearby shipping hubs is an important part of the industry. 

Other Major Trucking Hubs Near Philadelphia

Philadelphia is a gateway to some of the most populous areas of the country. 

  • Traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina, is just over 500 miles along I-95. Depending on the efficiency of loading and unloading, as well as traffic conditions, this could be one or two days of driving when considering the driver’s government-mandated Hours of Service. If needed, this route has numerous rest areas and truck stops, including Love’s and Pilot brands. 

  • Columbus, Ohio, is about 460 miles away. A driver may be able to make this route in one day with convenient pick-up and delivery times. 

Shipping cost always varies based on the distance traveled, in addition to other factors like the size of the load, the type of cargo, load-to-truck ratios and more. Philly, like other cities, has its own quirks that help determine pricing. 

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Freight To and From Philadelphia?

Philadelphia serves as sort of a gateway to the major cities on the east coast. A tremendous amount of freight comes from southern origins to be loaded onto smaller, more maneuverable trucks to head north. 

An abundance of shipments coming to Philadelphia from the south means prices along that route are usually elevated, as there is more freight available than there are drivers and trucks to haul it. If you need freight to arrive in Philadelphia by a specific deadline, be prepared to pay extra. 

Once trucks are in Philadelphia, they are motivated to return to a further south city to pick up their next load. If your freight originates in Philadelphia and needs to arrive in Columbus or Charlotte (or other major producers in the eastern part of the country), expect lower prices as trucks compete for fewer shipments. 

As a city located in one of the ATS Van Network Lanes, Philadelphia consistently has access to drivers and trucks in the area. This helps regulate the price of shipping, and it helps customers build a personal relationship with a carrier in the area. 

Of course, competition is one of the driving factors that influences the price of shipping to and from Philadelphia. This will vary some throughout the year. 

What Are the Busiest Shipping Seasons In Philadelphia? 

Philadelphia’s position as a retail hub means it follows trucking industry trends, where August through October are among the busiest months as stores ramp up for holiday shopping. Expect elevated prices this time of year, as an increased number of shippers are looking for trucks. 

The beginning of the year, January through March, is slower shipping in and out of Philadelphia. Pricing tends to be lower during these first quarter months as drivers are looking for their next load. 

As one of the cities within the ATS Van Network Lanes, we have a fleet of drivers who live in the area who are eager to start and end their weeks close to home and spend the weekend with their families. 

Using the Van Network Lane allows area customers to build a personal relationship with those hauling their freight, including drivers and customer service agents. 

How to Find a Trucking Company in Philadelphia

Like most major cities, Philly is a popular stop for many trucking carriers and brokers. Before choosing a provider, make sure they understand the ins and outs of the city (and by ins and outs, we mean nuances as much as we mean routes). 

ATS serves Philadelphia and neighboring cities (and far-flung) cities as part of our Van Network Lanes.

Learn more about shipping by subscribing to the ATS Learning Hub, where we regularly publish informational content about the trucking industry. If you’re looking for specific information about your next freight shipment, contact us

Chris Watson

Written by Chris Watson

Chris has been part of the ATS team since 2010. In his customer service role, Chris coordinates drivers and trucks to consistently exceed customer expectations. He monitors all freight going in, out and around his designated cities to ensure safe, on-time delivery.

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