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August 2015 North American Freight Numbers

Press Release Number: 
BTS 49-15
Date: 
Thursday, October 29, 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: August 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $92.4 billion in August 2015 as all modes of transportation carried less value of freight than a year earlier, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by theU.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 8.1 percent. Large decreases in the value of commodities moved by pipeline and vessel in August were due to the reduced unit price of mineral fuel.

Freight by Mode

In August 2015 compared to August 2014, the value of commodities moving by truck decreased by 1.8 percent, while rail decreased by 8.4 percent and air by 10.3 percent (Figure 1, Table 2). Vessel freight values decreased 33.5 percent and pipeline freight decreased 33.6 percent mainly due to the lower unit price of mineral fuel.

Average monthly fuel prices are available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A decline in the value of freight shipments does not necessarily mean there was a lower volume of freight transported.

Trucks carried 63.6 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 $29.7 billion of the $49.8 billion of imports (59.6 percent) and $29.1 billion of the $42.7 billion of exports (68.3 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.5 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 6.6 percent; pipeline, 5.4 percent; and air, 3.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.5 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: August 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-Canada freight totaled $48.0 billion in August 2015, down 13.6 percent from August 2014, as all modes of transportation carried less 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 freight moved between the U.S. and Canada. Mineral fuels are a large share of freight carried by pipeline and vessel, which were down 35.1 percent and 40.2 percent respectively year-over-year (Figure 2, Table 3).

Trucks carried 58.1 percent of the $48.0 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 15.8 percent; pipeline, 9.6 percent; vessel, 4.9 percent; and air, 4.3 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.5 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: August 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $44.5 billion in August 2015, down 1.4 percent from August 2014, as two out of five transportation modes – rail and truck – carried more U.S.-Mexico freight than in August 2014. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Mexico rail freight rose 3.2 percent, the largest percentage increase of any mode. Freight carried by truck increased by 1.5 percent. Air freight was down 3.0 percent and pipeline freight declined 4.0 percent. Vessel freight decreased by 28.6 percent mainly due to lower mineral fuel prices (Figure 3, Table 4).

Trucks carried 69.6 percent of the $44.5 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 15.1 percent; vessel, 8.5 percent; air, 2.8 percent; and pipeline, 0.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.5 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities
In August 2015, the top commodity category for all modes transported between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, of which $5.5 billion, or 61.1 percent, moved by truck and $3.3 billion, and 36.4 percent, moved by rail (Figure 4). The top commodity category for all modes transported between the U.S. and Mexico in August 2015 was electrical machinery, of which $8.2 billion, or 92.3 percent, moved by truck and $0.4 billion, and 4.6 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 seasonally adjusted and 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 September TransBorder numbers for Nov. 24.

 

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 92,707 5.3 -10.8
June 93,502 102,978 99,030 10.1 -3.8
July 93,080 101,075 92,995 8.6 -8.0
August 96,426 100,624 92,442 4.4 -8.1
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 756,123 790,121 741,553 4.5 -6.1
Annual 1,140,770 1,192,671   4.5  

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

Note: Numbers August 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   August 2014 August 2015 Percent Change August 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 53,669 49,766 -7.3
Exports 46,955 42,676 -9.1
Total 100,624 92,442 -8.1
All Surface Modes Imports 44,950 43,299 -3.7
Exports 38,057 34,790 -8.6
Total 83,007 78,089 -5.9
Truck Imports 28,759 29,684 3.2
Exports 31,163 29,138 -6.5
Total 59,922 58,822 -1.8
Rail Imports 9,790 9,509 -2.9
Exports 5,801 4,778 -17.6
Total 15,591 14,286 -8.4
Pipeline Imports 6,402 4,106 -35.9
Exports 1,093 874 -20.0
Total 7,495 4,981 -33.6
Vessel Imports 5,250 3,134 -40.3
Exports 3,974 2,998 -24.6
Total 9,224 6,132 -33.5
Air Imports 1,653 1,408 -14.9
Exports 2,049 1,913 -6.6
Total 3,702 3,321 -10.3

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   August 2014 August 2015 Percent Change August 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 28,903 24,886 -13.9
Exports 26,618 23,065 -13.4
Total 55,521 47,951 -13.6
All Surface Modes Imports 24,264 21,471 -11.5
Exports 21,361 18,575 -13.0
Total 45,625 40,046 -12.2
Truck Imports 11,960 12,182 1.9
Exports 17,445 15,658 -10.2
Total 29,405 27,840 -5.3
Rail Imports 5,924 5,203 -12.2
Exports 3,172 2,378 -25.0
Total 9,096 7,581 -16.7
Pipeline Imports 6,380 4,086 -36.0
Exports 745 539 -27.7
Total 7,125 4,624 -35.1
Vessel Imports 2,169 1,244 -42.6
Exports 1,779 1,118 -37.1
Total 3,948 2,362 -40.2
Air Imports 1,086 853 -21.4
Exports 1,314 1,205 -8.3
Total 2,400 2,058 -14.2

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

Table Version | Excel

Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, August 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   August 2014 August 2015 Percent Change August 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 24,766 24,880 0.5
Exports 20,337 19,612 -3.6
Total 45,103 44,492 -1.4
All Surface Modes Imports 20,687 21,828 5.5
Exports 16,696 16,215 -2.9
Total 37,382 38,043 1.8
Truck Imports 16,799 17,502 4.2
Exports 13,718 13,480 -1.7
Total 30,517 30,982 1.5
Rail Imports 3,865 4,306 11.4
Exports 2,629 2,400 -8.7
Total 6,495 6,705 3.2
Pipeline Imports 23 21 -9.0
Exports 348 336 -3.6
Total 371 356 -4.0
Vessel Imports 3,081 1,890 -38.7
Exports 2,195 1,880 -14.4
Total 5,277 3,770 -28.6
Air Imports 567 554 -2.2
Exports 735 708 -3.6
Total 1,302 1,262 -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.

 

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

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

NOTE: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding