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March 2014 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Press Release Number: 
BTS 23-14
Date: 
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

PDF | Excel

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, March 2009 - March 2014

Table Version | Excel

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, March 2009 - March 2014

Source for Recession Dates: National Bureau of Economic Research, US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 1.6 percent in March from February, rising for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The March 2014 index level (116.7) was 23.2 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

The level of freight shipments in March measured by the seasonally-adjusted Freight TSI (116.7) was 0.8 percent below the all-time high level of 117.7 in November 2013 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The February index was revised to 114.9 from 115.2 in last month’s release.  The monthly numbers for October through January were all revised up slightly.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

Analysis: The March increase in the freight index reflected growth in all modes except pipeline. Trucking and rail intermodal grew most rapidly. March was the second month in a row that trucking and rail intermodal were the fastest growing modes. The growth in trucking represented continued recovery from unusually severe winter weather that hampered freight shipments in earlier months.  Severe weather can affect the demand for goods to ship as well as the ability to move goods.  The decline in the Freight TSI in December and January and its rebound in the succeeding two months took place while GDP growth slowed to an annualized rate of 0.1 percent during the first quarter of 2014 from 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Trend: The freight TSI increased for the second consecutive month after declining in the two previous months. Freight shipments in March were at the third highest all-time level, below only the two highest months: November and December 2013. After dipping to 94.8 in April 2009, the index rose by 23.2 percent in the succeeding 59 months. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in March 2014 (116.7) were 23.2 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.8). The March 2014 level is down 0.8 percent from the historic peak reached in November 2013 (117.7).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were down 0.2 percent in March compared to the end of 2013 (Table 3)

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 21.8 percent in the five years from the recession level of March 2009 and are up 6.1 percent in the 10 years from March 2004 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: March 2014 freight shipments were up three percent from March 2013 (Tables 4, 5).

1st quarter change: The Freight TSI fell 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014 (Table 10).  

The TSI has three seasonally adjusted indexes that measures changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. The three indexes are freight shipments, passenger travel and a combined measure that merges the freight and passenger indexes. TSI includes data from 2000 to the present. Release of the April 2014 index is scheduled for June 2014.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.3 percent in March from its February level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI March 2014 level of 117.7 was 1.2 percent above the March 2013 level (Table 7). The index is up 8.6 percent in five years and up 15.0 percent in 10 years (Table 5).  The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel that involves the services of the for-hire passenger transportation sector. The seasonally adjusted index consists of data from air, local transit and intercity rail.

Combined Index: The combined freight and passenger TSI rose 1.2 percent in March from its February level (Table 8). The combined TSI March 2014 level of 117.1 was 2.5 percent above the March 2013 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 17.6 percent in five years and up 8.5 percent in 10 years (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: Monthly data has changed from previous releases due to the use of concurrent seasonal analysis, which results in seasonal analysis factors changing as each months data are added.    

For a webinar on the TSI, see Past Webinars.  For a video explanation of the TSI, see Overview of the Transportation Services Index.  A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

 

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Since September 2013

Percent Change from Previous Month

(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

  Freight Passenger Combined
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
September 114.8 0.4 117.5 -0.4 115.7 0.1
October 114.7 -0.1 118.6 0.9 115.9 0.2
November 117.7 2.6 118.6 0.0 118.1 1.8
December 117.0 -0.6 118.3 -0.2 117.5 -0.5
January 114.0 -2.5 118.3 0.0 115.4 -1.8
February 114.9 0.8 117.4 -0.8 115.7 0.3
March 116.7 1.6 117.7 0.3 117.1 1.2

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2011-2014

Percent change from previous month

  2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change 2014 % Change
January 0.9 -3.5 0.4 -2.5
February -1.3 0.5 1.0 0.8
March 1.1 -1.1 0.1 1.6
April -0.2 0.9 -0.7  
May -2.4 0.4 1.1  
June 2.1 0.3 -0.1  
July 0.4 -0.3 0.3  
August 0.6 -0.3 0.3  
September 0.5 0.0 0.4  
October 0.3 -2.1 -0.1  
November 0.1 1.5 2.6  
December 3.6 1.2 -0.6  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2011-2014

  2011 2012 2013 2014
January 109.2 110.5 112.0 114.0
February 107.8 111.0 113.2 114.9
March 109.0 109.8 113.3 116.7
April 108.8 110.9 112.5  
May 106.3 111.3 113.8  
June 108.5 111.6 113.7  
July 109.0 111.3 114.0  
August 109.6 110.9 114.4  
September 110.2 110.9 114.8  
October 110.5 108.6 114.7  
November 110.5 110.2 117.7  
December 114.5 111.6 117.0  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2005-2014

Percent change to March from December of the previous year

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2005 0.9 1.3 1.0
2006 -0.2 2.1 0.4
2007 1.1 2.5 1.5
2008 -0.7 0.1 -0.5
2009 -4.4 -1.8 -3.6
2010 2.2 0.7 1.7
2011 0.7 0.7 0.7
2012 -4.0 0.3 -2.7
2013 1.5 0.1 1.1
2014 -0.2 -0.5 -0.3

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the March Freight TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  March Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2005 112.2 2.0
2006 111.9 -0.3
2007 111.9 -0.1
2008 110.0 -1.6
2009 95.8 -12.9
2010 103.8 8.3
2011 109.0 5.1
2012 109.8 0.7
2013 113.3 3.1
2014 116.7 3.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Years

Percent Change to 2014 (March to March)

Since March . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to March 2014 Passenger TSI Percent change to March 2014 Combined TSI Percent change to March 2014
2013 1 3.0 1.2 2.5
2012 2 6.3 1.0 4.6
2011 3 7.1 3.3 5.9
2010 4 12.5 5.7 10.4
2009 5 21.8 8.6 17.6
2008 6 6.1 1.1 4.5
2007 7 4.4 1.0 3.2
2006 8 4.3 6.0 4.7
2005 9 4.0 9.2 5.4
2004 10 6.1 15.0 8.5

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2011-2014

Percent change from previous month

  2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change 2014 % Change
January 0.2 -1.2 0.1 0.0
February -1.2 1.7 0.2 -0.8
March 1.7 -0.2 -0.3 0.3
April 0.1 -0.3 1.2  
May 1.1 -0.4 0.0  
June -0.7 0.0 0.1  
July 1.0 -0.6 -0.6  
August -2.3 1.0 0.7  
September 2.4 -0.3 -0.4  
October -0.2 -1.4 0.9  
November -0.1 0.4 0.0  
December 0.7 1.3 -0.2  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the March Passenger TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  March Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2005 107.8 5.4
2006 111.0 3.0
2007 116.6 5.0
2008 116.4 -0.1
2009 108.4 -6.9
2010 111.4 2.7
2011 114.0 2.4
2012 116.6 2.3
2013 116.3 -0.3
2014 117.7 1.2

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2011-2014

Percent change from previous month

  2011 % Change 2012 % Change 2013 % Change 2014 % Change
January 0.7 -2.8 0.3 -1.8
February -1.3 0.9 0.8 0.3
March 1.3 -0.8 0.0 1.2
April -0.1 0.5 -0.1  
May -1.3 0.1 0.8  
June 1.3 0.2 0.0  
July 0.6 -0.4 0.0  
August -0.3 0.1 0.4  
September 1.1 -0.1 0.1  
October 0.1 -1.9 0.2  
November 0.0 1.1 1.8  
December 2.7 1.3 -0.5  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the March Combined TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  March Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2005 111.2 3.0
2006 111.9 0.7
2007 113.5 1.4
2008 112.1 -1.2
2009 99.6 -11.2
2010 106.1 6.5
2011 110.6 4.2
2012 111.9 1.2
2013 114.3 2.1
2014 117.1 2.5

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 10: Freight Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2005-2014

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

Year 1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth 2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth 3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2005 0.9 -0.5 -0.2 0.7
2006 -0.2 0.9 0.1 -2.1
2007 1.1 -1.9 -0.1 1.2
2008 -0.7 -0.2 -2.5 -6.3
2009 -4.4 0.1 3.3 2.5
2010 2.2 1.4 1.1 1.8
2011 0.7 -0.5 1.5 3.9
2012 -4.0 1.6 -0.6 0.6
2013 1.5 0.4 1.0 1.9
2014 -0.2      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 11: Passenger Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2005-2014

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

Year 1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth 2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth 3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2005 1.3 0.8 1.6 -1.6
2006 2.1 0.0 -0.2 2.6
2007 2.5 0.1 0.8 -1.0
2008 0.1 0.0 -3.7 -1.5
2009 -1.8 0.1 0.9 1.0
2010 0.7 0.9 1.3 -0.5
2011 0.7 0.5 1.0 0.4
2012 0.3 -0.8 0.1 0.3
2013 0.1 1.3 -0.3 0.7
2014 -0.5      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 12: Combined Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2005-2014

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

Year 1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth 2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth 3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2005 1.0 -0.1 0.3 0.0
2006 0.4 0.6 0.0 -0.7
2007 1.5 -1.3 0.1 0.5
2008 -0.5 -0.2 -2.8 -5.0
2009 -3.6 0.1 2.6 2.0
2010 1.7 1.3 1.2 1.0
2011 0.7 -0.2 1.4 2.8
2012 -2.7 0.9 -0.4 0.5
2013 1.1 0.7 0.6 1.5
2014 -0.3      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Brief Explanation of the TSI
           
The Transportation Services Index (TSI) is a measure of the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire transportation industries.  The freight index measure changes in freight shipments while the passenger index measures changes in passenger travel.

The TSI tells us how the output of transportation services has increased or decreased from month to month. The index can be examined together with other economic indicators to produce a better understanding of the current and future course of the economy.   The movement of the index over time can be compared with other economic measures to understand the relationship of changes in transportation output to changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The freight transportation index consists of:
For-hire trucking,
Railroad freight services (including rail based intermodal shipments such as containers on flat cars),
Inland waterways transportation,
Pipeline transportation (including principally petroleum and petroleum products and natural gas), and
Air freight.

The index does not include international or coastal waterborne movements, private trucking, courier services, or the US Postal Service.

The passenger transportation index consists of:
Local transit,
Intercity passenger rail, and
Passenger air transportation.

The index does not include intercity bus, sightseeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized transportation.