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September 2015 North American Freight Numbers

Press Release Number: 
BTS 53-15
Date: 
Tuesday, November 24, 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: September 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $93.2 billion in September 2015 as all modes of transportation carried less value of freight than a year earlier, 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 8.8 percent. Large decreases in the value of commodities moved by pipeline and vessel in September were due to the reduced unit price of mineral fuel.

Freight by Mode

In September 2015 compared to September 2014, the value of commodities moving by truck decreased by 0.1 percent, while air decreased by 4.0 percent and rail by 12.2 percent (Figure 1, Table 2). Vessel freight values decreased 38.9 percent and pipeline freight decreased 41.8 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 65.7 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 $31.7 billion of the $50.5 billion of imports (62.8 percent) and $29.6 billion of the $42.7 billion of exports (69.2 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 14.4 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 5.6 percent; pipeline, 5.1 percent; and air, 3.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.2 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: September 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-Canada freight totaled $48.3 billion in September 2015, down 15.8 percent from September 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 vessel and pipeline, which were down 35.7 percent and 42.1 percent respectively year-over-year (Figure 2, Table 3).

Trucks carried 59.1 percent of the $48.3 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 15.1 percent; pipeline, 9.2 percent; air, 4.9 percent; and vessel, 4.0 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.4 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: September 2014 - 2015

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data

The value of U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $45.0 billion in September 2015, up 0.2 percent from September 2014, as two out of five transportation modes – rail and truck – carried more U.S.-Mexico freight than in September 2014. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Mexico truck freight rose 7.9 percent, the largest percentage increase of any mode. The top three commodities carried by truck had double digit increases in value: electrical machinery up 16.3 percent, computer equipment up 10.2 percent and vehicles and parts up 12.9 percent. Freight carried by rail increased by 1.4 percent. The top commodity carried by rail, vehicles and parts, was up 8.9 percent.  Air freight was down 6.9 percent and pipeline freight declined 37.0 percent. Vessel freight decreased by 40.7 percent mainly due to lower mineral fuel prices (Figure 3, Table 4).

Trucks carried 72.8 percent of the $45.0 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 13.6 percent; vessel, 7.4 percent; air, 2.8 percent; and pipeline, 0.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 87.1 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities
In September 2015, the top commodity category for all modes transported between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, of which $5.4 billion, or 60.8 percent, moved by truck and $3.2 billion, and 36.8 percent, moved by rail (Figure 4). The top commodity category for all modes transported between the U.S. and Mexico in September 2015 was electrical machinery, of which $9.1 billion, or 93.6 percent, moved by truck and $0.4 billion, and 4.5 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 October TransBorder numbers for Jan. 7.

 

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 93,246 8.2 -8.8
October 103,140 108,243   4.9  
November 96,136 96,252   0.1  
December 90,906 95,811   5.4  
Year-to-date 850,588 892,366 834,799 4.9 -6.5
Annual 1,140,770 1,192,671   4.5  

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

Note: Numbers 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   September 2014 September 2015 Percent Change September 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 55,512 50,497 -9.0
Exports 46,733 42,750 -8.5
Total 102,245 93,246 -8.8
All Surface Modes Imports 46,940 44,473 -5.3
Exports 37,789 34,965 -7.5
Total 84,729 79,438 -6.2
Truck Imports 30,082 31,705 5.4
Exports 31,234 29,580 -5.3
Total 61,315 61,285 -0.1
Rail Imports 9,860 8,857 -10.2
Exports 5,430 4,570 -15.8
Total 15,290 13,427 -12.2
Pipeline Imports 6,998 3,912 -44.1
Exports 1,125 815 -27.6
Total 8,124 4,726 -41.8
Vessel Imports 4,976 2,678 -46.2
Exports 3,635 2,581 -29.0
Total 8,611 5,258 -38.9
Air Imports 1,618 1,604 -0.9
Exports 2,186 2,047 -6.4
Total 3,804 3,651 -4.0

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   September 2014 September 2015 Percent Change September 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 30,656 25,140 -18.0
Exports 26,710 23,155 -13.3
Total 57,366 48,295 -15.8
All Surface Modes Imports 26,421 21,813 -17.4
Exports 21,439 18,460 -13.9
Total 47,860 40,273 -15.9
Truck Imports 13,273 12,884 -2.9
Exports 17,688 15,663 -11.4
Total 30,961 28,547 -7.8
Rail Imports 6,163 5,037 -18.3
Exports 3,079 2,257 -26.7
Total 9,242 7,293 -21.1
Pipeline Imports 6,984 3,892 -44.3
Exports 672 540 -19.7
Total 7,657 4,432 -42.1
Vessel Imports 1,665 1,068 -35.9
Exports 1,372 884 -35.6
Total 3,037 1,952 -35.7
Air Imports 1,002 1,048 4.5
Exports 1,439 1,334 -7.3
Total 2,442 2,382 -2.5

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, September 2015

(billions of current dollars)

Table Version | Excel

Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, September 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   September 2014 September 2015 Percent Change September 2014-2015
All Modes Imports 24,856 25,356 2.0
Exports 20,023 19,595 -2.1
Total 44,879 44,951 0.2
All Surface Modes Imports 20,519 22,661 10.4
Exports 16,350 16,505 0.9
Total 36,869 39,165 6.2
Truck Imports 16,808 18,821 12.0
Exports 13,546 13,917 2.7
Total 30,354 32,737 7.9
Rail Imports 3,697 3,821 3.3
Exports 2,351 2,313 -1.6
Total 6,048 6,134 1.4
Pipeline Imports 14 19 36.7
Exports 453 275 -39.3
Total 467 294 -37.0
Vessel Imports 3,311 1,610 -51.4
Exports 2,263 1,697 -25.0
Total 5,575 3,306 -40.7
Air Imports 616 556 -9.7
Exports 747 713 -4.5
Total 1,363 1,269 -6.9

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, September 2015

(billions of current dollars)

Table Version | Excel

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

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data
NOTE: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.