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Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Fell 1.9 Percent in March from February

Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Fell 1.9 Percent in March from February

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BTS 21-08
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) fell 1.9 percent in March from its February level, the largest monthly decline since August 2006, the U.S. Department of Transportations Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today (Table 2).

Since dropping to a recent low in September, the freight index has increased sharply in October and January, with each rise followed by a sharp drop two months later (Table 1). At 109.4 in March, the freight TSI was up 1.3 percent in the six months since its recent low of 108.0 in September but down 3.3 percent from its peak of 113.1 reached in November 2005. For additional historical data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

The 0.5 percent increase in the freight index since December marked the second consecutive year the index increased in the first three months (Table 3).

The freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire freight transportation industries. The index consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

The March freight TSI level of 109.4 was 0.4 percent lower than the March 2007 level for the third consecutive March-to-March decline. The index is at its lowest March level since March 2003 (Table 4).

Despite declines from recent March levels, the freight index has increased 6.1 percent in five years and 10.7 percent in 10 years (Table 5).

The TSI is a seasonally adjusted index that measures changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. It includes historic data from 1990 to the present.  Release of the April index is scheduled for June 11.

BTS has issued a new technical report explaining the TSI. BTS Technical Report: Transportation Services Index and the Economy is available for download at https://www.bts.gov/pdc/index.xml in the BTS bookstore.

Transportation Services Index for Passengers

The TSI for passengers rose 1.8 percent in March from its February level, rising after two consecutive monthly declines (Table 6). The Passenger TSI March 2008 level of 116.2 was 1.8 percent higher than the March 2007 level, marking six consecutive annual increases since March 2003 (Table 7). The passenger index declined for the first three months of the year for the first time since 2003 (Table 3). However, the passenger index is up 23.9 percent in five years and 29.8 percent in 10 years (Table 5).

The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire passenger transportation industries. The seasonally adjusted index consists of data from air, local transit and intercity rail.

Combined Freight and Passenger Index

The combined freight and passenger TSI fell 1.0 percent in March from its February level, falling for the second consecutive month (Table 8). The combined TSI March 2008 level of 110.7 was 0.2 percent higher than the March 2007 level (Table 9). Despite the March decline, the combined index rose for the first three months of the year for the fifth consecutive year (Table 3). The combined index is up 10.4 percent in five years and 15.5 percent in 10 years (Table 5).

The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

1st Quarter Changes

On a quarterly basis, the Freight TSI rose 0.5 percent in the first quarter, rising for the second consecutive quarter. The quarterly increases coincide with the recovery from the recent low in September (Table 10). The Passenger TSI fell 0.8 percent in the first quarter, the second consecutive quarterly decline (Table 11). The Combined TSI increased 0.2 percent in the first quarter, also rising for the second consecutive quarter (Table 12).

More on TSI

NOTE: TSI numbers for November (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The November Freight TSI is 110.2, unchanged from the April release. The November Passenger TSI is 116.4, revised from 115.0. The November Combined TSI is 111.4, revised from 111.0. The TSI for December, January, February and March are preliminary.

TSI revision policy: TSI is updated monthly with the latest four months index numbers considered preliminary.  Each month BTS releases the latest preliminary TSI, and replaces the oldest preliminary TSI with a revised TSI.  More information about the monthly revision policy, the 2007 comprehensive revision conducted with the July release and the TSI index is available at http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes since September 2007
Percent Change by Month
(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

Month Freight Passenger Combined
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
September 108.0 -0.9 117.4 -0.1 109.9 -0.7
October 109.8 1.7 118.2 0.7 111.5 1.4
NovemberR 110.2 0.4 116.4 -1.5 111.4 -0.1
DecemberP 108.8 -1.3 117.1 0.6 110.5 -0.8
JanuaryP 111.5 2.4 115.5 -1.4 112.1 1.5
FebruaryP 111.5 0.0 114.1 -1.2 111.8 -0.3
MarchP 109.4 -1.9 116.2 1.8 110.7 -1.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2005-2008
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

Month 2005 % Growth 2006 % Growth 2007 % Growth 2008 % Growth
January 1.7 0.4 -0.3 (P) 2.4
February -0.9 -1.4 0.0 (P) 0.0
March 0.1 0.4 1.1 (P) -1.9
April -0.3 -0.3 -0.4  
May 0.0 2.4 -0.1  
June -0.4 -0.3 -0.7  
July -0.5 -0.9 0.1  
August 1.0 -2.5 0.5  
September -1.3 0.9 -0.9  
October -0.3 -0.1 1.7  
November 2.8 -1.4 (R) 0.4  
December -1.7 0.6 (P) -1.3  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Annual Change, 1999-2008
Percent change from December of previous year
December to March

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
1999 2.9 0.2 2.0
2000 -4.8 4.1 -2.1
2001 1.6 -0.5 0.9
2002 1.6 2.0 1.7
2003 -1.5 -4.0 -2.2
2004 1.6 1.6 1.6
2005 0.9 1.8 1.2
2006 -0.5 2.2 0.1
2007 0.8 0.0 0.6
2008P 0.5 -0.8 0.2

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year
Percent change in the March Freight TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

Year Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
1999 102.8 4.0
2000 99.9 -2.8
2001 99.4 -0.5
2002 98.8 -0.6
2003 103.1 4.3
2004 109.8 6.5
2005 112.0 2.0
2006 110.7 -1.2
2007 109.8 -0.8
2008P 109.4 -0.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Years
Percent Change to 2008 (March to March)

Excel | CSV

Since March. . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to March 2008 Passenger TSI Percent change to March 2008 Combined TSI Percent change to March 2008
2007 1 -0.4 1.8 0.2
2006 2 -1.2 4.4 0.1
2005 3 -2.3 7.2 -0.1
2004 4 -0.4 13.8 3.0
2003 5 6.1 23.9 10.4
2002 6 10.7 24.7 14.0
2001 7 10.0 15.7 11.0
2000 8 9.5 17.2 11.1
1999 9 6.4 24.0 10.9
1998 10 10.7 29.8 15.5

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The percent changes to March 2008 are all preliminary.

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2005-2008
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

Month 2005 % Growth 2006 % Growth 2007 % Growth 2008 % Growth
January 1.4 1.9 -0.1 (P) -1.4
February -0.1 -0.6 -2.0 (P) -1.2
March 0.5 1.0 2.2 (P) 1.8
April 0.0 0.3 0.5  
May 0.8 0.6 1.5  
June 0.1 -1.0 -0.2  
July 0.1 0.5 -0.1  
August 0.2 0.0 1.1  
September 1.4 0.9 -0.1  
October -1.9 0.4 0.7  
November 0.7 -0.2 (R) -1.5  
December -0.9 1.1 (P) 0.6  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year
Percent change in the March Passenger TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

Year Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
1999 93.7 4.7
2000 99.2 5.8
2001 100.4 1.3
2002 93.1 -7.3
2003 93.7 0.7
2004 102.1 8.9
2005 108.3 6.1
2006 111.3 2.7
2007 114.2 2.6
2008P 116.2 1.8

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2005-2008
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

Month 2005 % Growth 2006 % Growth 2007 % Growth 2008 % Growth
January 1.6 0.8 -0.3 (P) 1.5
February -0.7 -1.2 -0.5 (P) -0.3
March 0.2 0.6 1.4 (P) -1.0
April -0.2 -0.1 -0.2  
May 0.2 2.0 0.3  
June -0.3 -0.4 -0.6  
July -0.3 -0.6 0.0  
August 0.8 -1.9 0.7  
September -0.6 0.9 -0.7  
October -0.7 0.1 1.4  
November 2.3 -1.1 (R) -0.1  
December -1.5 0.7 (P) -0.8  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year
Percent change in the March TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

Year TSI Percent change from same month previous year
1999 99.8 4.2
2000 99.7 -0.2
2001 99.7 0.1
2002 97.1 -2.7
2003 100.2 3.3
2004 107.5 7.2
2005 110.8 3.1
2006 110.5 -0.2
2007 110.5 0.0
2008P 110.7 0.2

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 10: Freight Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 1999-2008
Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

Excel | CSV

Year 1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth 2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth 3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
1999 2.9 -0.4 1.7 0.9
2000 -4.8 0.3 -1.4 -0.9
2001 1.6 -0.7 -1.3 -0.1
2002 1.6 2.6 1.1 2.0
2003 -1.5 0.1 1.2 3.5
2004 1.6 0.6 -0.4 1.0
2005 0.9 -0.7 -0.7 0.8
2006 -0.5 1.8 -2.5 -0.9
2007 0.8 -1.3 -0.4 (P) 0.8
2008 (P) 0.5      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 11: Passenger Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 1999-2008
Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

Excel | CSV

Year 1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth 2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth 3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
1999 0.2 0.4 3.3 -1.9
2000 4.1 0.9 2.5 -1.6
2001 -0.5 -0.2 -21.0 15.2
2002 2.0 1.4 -0.6 4.1
2003 -4.0 -0.2 5.0 2.3
2004 1.6 2.0 0.9 1.2
2005 1.8 0.9 1.7 -2.1
2006 2.2 -0.1 1.4 1.3
2007 0.0 1.8 1.0 (P) -0.2
2008 (P) -0.8      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 12: Combined Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 1999-2008
Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

Excel | CSV

Year 1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth 2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth 3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
1999 2.0 -0.2 2.2 0.0
2000 -2.1 0.5 -0.2 -1.2
2001 0.9 -0.5 -7.4 3.9
2002 1.7 2.3 0.6 2.6
2003 -2.2 0.0 2.2 3.2
2004 1.6 1.0 -0.1 1.0
2005 1.2 -0.3 -0.1 0.1
2006 0.1 1.4 -1.6 -0.4
2007 0.6 -0.5 0.0 (P) 0.5
2008 (P) 0.2      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

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 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 transportation.