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May Transportation Services Index (TSI)

May Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Combined Index and Freight Index Reach New Highs

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BTS 21-04
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Friday, August 6, 2004 - The Transportation Services Index (TSI) reached the highest level in the 14-year period covered by the index with a 0.1 percent rise in May, and the Freight TSI reached an all-time high with a 0.2 percent increase, the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported today.

The overall TSI, combining the freight and passenger indexes, rose every month beginning in August 2003 except for a drop in January. The May level of 124.3 (1996=100) was 8.5 percent higher than in May 2003, the biggest yearly rise in the 14-years. The April TSI was 124.2, revised from the 124.4 reported in BTS' July release.

The Freight Transportation Services Index has risen the past four months to a level of 126.1 (1996=100). The May level was 7.5 percent higher than in May 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 next release is scheduled for Sept. 7.

The Transportation Services Index for Freight

The TSI for freight increased 0.2 percent in May from April's level of 125.8. The May 2004 level of 126.1 was 7.5 percent higher than the May 2003 level of 117.2 and is a new high for the 14-year period covered by the index. The April TSI for freight was 125.8, revised from the 126.0 reported in BTS' July release.

Transportation Services Index for Passengers

The TSI for passengers was down 0.2 percent in May after a 1.5 percent rise in April. The May level of 120.6 is 11.1 percent higher than the May 2003 level of 108.5, the biggest year-to-year change in the 14-year period. The April TSI for passengers was 120.8, revised from the 121.1 reported in BTS' July release. The May level is still below the all-time high for the Passenger TSI of 121.5 in September 2000.

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

Excel | CSV

  TSI Freight Passenger
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
November 119.4 1.4 120.6 1.0 116.9 2.4
December 122.5 2.6 125.1 3.7 116.7 -0.1
January 120.3 -1.8 122.0 -2.5 116.6 -0.1
February 121.9 1.4 123.1 0.9 119.4 2.5
March 123.2 1.1 125.2 1.7 119.0 -0.4
April 124.2 0.8 125.8 0.5 120.8 1.5
May 124.3 0.1 126.1 0.2 120.6 -0.2

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

Excel | CSV

  TSI Percent change from previous year
1996 100.0 2.3
1997 105.0 5.0
1998 112.7 7.3
1999 115.2 2.2
2000 115.2 0.1
2001 115.4 0.2
2002 114.3 -1.0
2003 114.5 0.2
2004 124.3 8.5

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

Excel | CSV

Percent change to May 2004 Since May Duration
8.5 2003 One Year
8.7 2002 Two Years
7.7 2001 Three Years
7.8 2000 Four Years
7.9 1999 Five Years
10.3 1998 Six Years
18.4 1997 Seven Years
24.3 1996 Eight Years

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

Excel | CSV

  Freight TSI Percent change from previous year
1996 100.2 0.7
1997 105.9 5.7
1998 115.2 8.8
1999 117.5 2.0
2000 113.8 -3.1
2001 114.3 0.4
2002 115.7 1.2
2003 117.2 1.4
2004 126.1 7.5

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

Excel | CSV

  Passenger TSI Percent change from previous year
1996 99.7 6.0
1997 103.3 3.6
1998 107.4 4.0
1999 110.3 2.7
2000 119.3 8.1
2001 118.6 -0.5
2002 111.7 -5.9
2003 108.5 -2.8
2004 120.6 11.1

During the six months ending in May, the TSI rose 4.1 percent (seasonally adjusted). The Freight TSI rose 4.5 percent and the Passenger TSI rose 3.2 percent during the six-month period.

Note: TSI 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. In April 2004, the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) replaced the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) as the basis for GDP by industry as weights in aggregating individual indexes of transportation services by mode and type of services into composite indexes. SIC-based GDP by industry data will no longer be published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). This change has a minor impact on individual numbers but almost no impact on the general trends of TSI.

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.