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BTS Releases March Transportation Services Index (TSI)

BTS Releases March Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Combined Index and Freight Index Reach Record Highs

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BTS 14-04
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Monday June 7, 2004 - The Transportation Services Index (TSI) reached the highest level in the 14-year period covered by the index with a 1.0 percent rise in March, and the Freight TSI reached an all-time high with a 1.4 percent increase, the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported today .

The overall TSI rose every month since August 2003 except for a drop in January this year. The March level of 122.5 (1996=100) was 7.0 percent higher than in March 2003. The February TSI was 121.3, revised from the 120.4 reported in BTS' May release.

The Freight Transportation Services Index has risen the past two months to a level of 123.3 (1996=100). The March level was 6.0 percent higher than a year ago in March 2003.

TSI is a single seasonally adjusted index of the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire transportation industries, including railroad, air, truck, inland waterways, pipeline, and local transit.

The index includes historic data from 1990 to the present, allowing for examination of trends, peaks and low-points. Changes are measured against the base year of 1996. The TSI is still under development and is considered experimental.

The Transportation Services Index for Freight

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the TSI for freight increased 1.4 percent in March from February's level of 121.6. The March 2004 level of 123.3 was 6.0 percent higher than the March 2003 level of 116.3 and is a record high for the 14-year period covered by the index. The February TSI for freight was 121.6, revised from the 120.6 reported in BTS' May release.

Transportation Services Index for Passengers

The TSI for passengers was down 0.1 percent in March after two consecutive rises in January and February. The March level of 120.5 is 9.4 percent higher than the March 2003 level of 110.1. The February TSI for passengers was 120.6, revised from the 119.7 reported in BTS' May release.

Table 1: Percent changes in the Transportation Services Index by Month Since September 2003 (Seasonally Adjusted):

Excel | CSV

  TSI Freight Passenger
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
September 115.8 0.1 116.7 -0.2 113.8 0.8
October 116.7 0.8 117.6 0.8 114.5 0.6
November 118.1 1.2 118.4 0.6 117.5 2.6
December 120.2 1.7 121.3 2.5 117.3 -0.1
January 119.3 -0.7 120.1 -1.0 117.6 0.2
February 121.3 1.6 121.6 1.3 120.6 2.6
March 122.5 1.0 123.3 1.4 120.5 -0.1

Table 2: Percent changes in the Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year March TSI (1996 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  TSI Percent change from previous year
1996 99.9 1.0
1997 103.3 3.3
1998 109.6 6.1
1999 114.4 4.4
2000 114.0 -0.3
2001 114.5 0.4
2002 112.1 -2.1
2003 114.5 2.1
2004 122.5 7.0

Table 3: Percent Changes in the Transportation Services Index from Previous Years to 2004 March to March

Excel | CSV

Percent change to March 2004 Since March Duration
7.0 2003 One Year
9.2 2002 Two Years
7.0 2001 Three Years
7.4 2000 Four Years
7.1 1999 Five Years
11.8 1998 Six Years
18.6 1997 Seven Years
22.5 1996 Eight Years

Table 4: Percent changes in the Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year March Freight TSI (1996 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  Freight TSI Percent change from previous year
1996 100.1 -1.1
1997 103.1 3.1
1998 111.6 8.2
1999 116.2 4.2
2000 112.7 -3.1
2001 112.5 -0.2
2002 112.9 0.4
2003 116.3 3.1
2004 123.3 6.0

Table 5: Percent changes in the Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year March Passenger TSI (1996 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  Passenger TSI Percent change from previous year
1996 99.7 5.7
1997 103.6 4.0
1998 105.5 1.8
1999 110.6 4.9
2000 117.5 6.2
2001 119.4 1.6
2002 110.3 -7.6
2003 110.1 -0.2
2004 120.5 9.4

During the six months ending in March, the TSI rose 5.7 percent (seasonally adjusted). The Freight TSI rose 5.7 percent and the Passenger TSI rose 5.9 percent during the six-month period.

Note: Transportation Services Index numbers (Total, Freight, and Passenger) were revised because additional data became available for seasonality adjustments and revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. These changes have a larger impact on more recent numbers.

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 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 TSI is still under development and is therefore considered experimental. It is being examined for refinements in data sources, methodologies and interpretations.

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, sight seeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized means of transportation.

The components have been selected to give the best coverage possible of the for-hire transportation industry, subject to current limitations on the availability of monthly data.