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April 2015 North American Freight Numbers

Press Release Number: 
BTS 31-15
Date: 
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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Figure 1.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: April 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

Figure 1.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: April 2014 - 2015

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $93.3 billion in April 2015 as all modes but air carried less U.S.-NAFTA freight than in April 2014, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1, Table 1). Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by all modes decreased by 6.8 percent. Large decreases in the value of NAFTA trade by pipeline and vessel in April were due to the reduced unit price of mineral fuel shipments.

Freight by Mode

In April 2015 compared to April 2014, the value of commodities moving by air grew by 3.0 percent. The value of commodities shipped by all other modes declined.  Truck freight and rail freight both decreased by 0.9 percent (Figure 1, Table 2). Vessel freight decreased by 22.8 percent and pipeline freight decreased by 44.9 percent mainly due to the lower unit price of mineral fuel shipments.

Trucks carried 64.2 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and are the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $29.8 billion of the $49.1 billion of imports (60.8 percent) and $30.1 billion of the $44.3 billion of exports (67.9 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode, moving 15.6 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 6.5 percent; pipeline, 5.1 percent; and air, 4.1 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.9 percent of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows (Table 2).

U.S.-Canada Freight

Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: April 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: April 2014 - 2015

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

U.S.-Canada freight totaled $48.8 billion in April 2015, down 12.5 percent from April 2014, as all modes of transportation carried a lower value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier. Lower mineral fuel prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease in the value of rail freight, down 6.3 percent. Mineral fuels are a larger share of what is carried by vessel and pipeline which declined 3.6 percent, and 46.1 percent respectively (Figure 2, Table 3). The weight of mineral fuels imported by vessel actually increased 45.3 percent, almost offsetting the large price decline of the commodity.

Trucks carried 58.0 percent of the $48.8 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 16.9 percent; pipeline, 9.1 percent; vessel, 5.4 percent; and air, 4.5 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.0 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows (Table 3).

U.S.-Mexico Freight

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: April 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: April 2014 - 2015

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $44.5 billion in April 2015, up 0.3 percent from April 2014, as three out of five transportation modes – air, rail, and truck – carried more U.S.-Mexico freight than in April 2014. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Mexico air freight rose 17.2 percent, the largest percentage increase of any mode. Freight carried by rail increased by 7.2 percent and truck freight increased by 4.9 percent. Pipeline freight decreased by 20.8 percent and vessel freight decreased by 32.9 percent, mainly due to lower mineral fuel prices (Figure 3, Table 4).

Trucks carried 70.9 percent of the $44.5 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 14.3 percent; vessel, 7.8 percent; air, 3.5 percent; and pipeline, 0.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.9 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities

In April 2015, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, of which $5.2 billion, or 58.2 percent, moved by truck and $3.5 billion, or 39.2 percent, moved by rail (Figure 4). Vehicles and parts replaced mineral fuels as the top commodity in March 2015 and continues to be the top commodity for a second straight month. Mineral fuels had been the top commodity by value moved between the U.S. and Canada for 29 consecutive months (November 2012 - February 2015). This change is due, in large part, to a decline in the unit price of mineral fuels in recent months. The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in April 2015 was electrical machinery, of which $7.6 billion, or 91.5 percent, moved by truck and $0.4 billion, or 5.2 percent, moved by air (Figure 5).

Reporting Notes

BTS press releases and the BTS website define surface transportation modes as truck, rail and pipeline. See North American TransBorder Freight Data on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004. The category of all modes of transportation cited in the following tables includes freight movements by truck, rail, vessel, pipeline, air, other and unknown modes of transport. 

Data in this press release are not adjusted for inflation. Additional summary data adjusted for inflation and exchange rates can be found on the BTS website under TransBorder Indexed Freight Flow Data. The BLS indexes used in the adjustments for inflation and exchange rates may be revised in each of the three months after original publication. For more information, see TransBorder Press Releases for previous press releases and summary tables. See TransBorder Freight Data for data from previous months, and more state, port, or commodity data. BTS has scheduled the release of May TransBorder numbers for July 30.

 

Table 1. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows

(millions of current dollars)

Month 2013 2014 2015 Percent Change 2013-2014 Percent Change 2014-2015
January 90,766 90,326 89,258 -0.5 -1.2
February 88,894 89,557 85,723 0.7 -4.3
March 95,757 101,478 96,070 6.0 -5.3
April 98,956 100,141 93,327 1.2 -6.8
May 98,742 103,942   5.3  
June 93,502 102,978   10.1  
July 93,080 101,075   8.6  
August 96,426 100,624   4.4  
September 94,465 102,245   8.2  
October 103,140 108,243   4.9  
November 96,136 96,252   0.1  
December 90,906 95,811   5.4  
Year-to-date 374,373 381,502 364,379 1.9 -4.5
Annual 1,140,770 1,192,671   4.5  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Note: Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding. Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 2. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   April 2014 April 2015 Percent Change April 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 53,694 49,061 -8.6
Exports 46,447 44,266 -4.7
Total 100,141 93,327 -6.8
All Surface Modes Imports 45,874 43,123 -6.0
Exports 37,898 36,122 -4.7
Total 83,771 79,245 -5.4
Truck Imports 29,796 29,828 0.1
Exports 30,606 30,060 -1.8
Total 60,402 59,888 -0.9
Rail Imports 9,174 9,410 2.6
Exports 5,540 5,178 -6.5
Total 14,713 14,588 -0.9
Pipeline Imports 6,904 3,885 -43.7
Exports 1,753 884 -49.6
Total 8,656 4,769 -44.9
Vessel Imports 4,589 3,199 -30.3
Exports 3,309 2,900 -12.4
Total 7,898 6,099 -22.8
Air Imports 1,607 1,411 -12.2
Exports 2,069 2,376 14.8
Total 3,676 3,787 3.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

 

Table 3. Value of Monthly U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   April 2014 April 2015 Percent Change April 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 29,213 24,606 -15.8
Exports 26,559 24,211 -8.8
Total 55,772 48,817 -12.5
All Surface Modes Imports 25,633 21,473 -16.2
Exports 21,719 19,524 -10.1
Total 47,352 40,997 -13.4
Truck Imports 13,082 12,059 -7.8
Exports 17,239 16,260 -5.7
Total 30,320 28,318 -6.6
Rail Imports 5,663 5,547 -2.1
Exports 3,124 2,689 -13.9
Total 8,787 8,236 -6.3
Pipeline Imports 6,889 3,868 -43.8
Exports 1,357 576 -57.6
Total 8,246 4,444 -46.1
Vessel Imports 1,473 1,427 -3.2
Exports 1,246 1,196 -4.0
Total 2,720 2,623 -3.6
Air Imports 940 872 -7.2
Exports 1,399 1,348 -3.6
Total 2,339 2,220 -5.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

 

Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, April 2015

Table Version | Excel

Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, April 2015

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

NOTE: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

 

Table 4. Value of Monthly U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode   April 2014 April 2015 Percent Change April 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 24,481 24,454 -0.1
Exports 19,888 20,055 0.8
Total 44,370 44,509 0.3
All Surface Modes Imports 20,240 21,649 7.0
Exports 16,179 16,598 2.6
Total 36,419 38,248 5.0
Truck Imports 16,715 17,769 6.3
Exports 13,367 13,801 3.2
Total 30,082 31,570 4.9
Rail Imports 3,511 3,864 10.1
Exports 2,416 2,489 3.0
Total 5,927 6,353 7.2
Pipeline Imports 15 16 11.4
Exports 396 309 -22.0
Total 411 325 -20.8
Vessel Imports 3,115 1,772 -43.1
Exports 2,063 1,704 -17.4
Total 5,178 3,476 -32.9
Air Imports 667 539 -19.2
Exports 670 1,027 53.4
Total 1,337 1,566 17.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, http://transborder.bts.gov/transborder/

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

 

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, April 2015

Table Version | Excel

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, April 2015

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

NOTE: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.