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Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Fell 2.3 Percent in January from December

Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Fell 2.3 Percent in January from December

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BTS 11-09
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) fell 2.3 percent in January from its December level, falling for the third consecutive month to its lowest level in more than five years, the U.S. Department of Transportations Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today (Table 1).

The January decline was the fifth monthly decrease in six months. The index has declined 7.7 percent in the last six months, the largest six-month decline since an 8.4 percent decline in 1995. The 5.9 percent decline in the three-month November through January period was the largest three-month decline since April 2000 (Tables 1, 2).

The 2.3 percent decline in January was the second January decline in five years and the largest January decline since 1996. The index dropped 0.3 percent in 2007 (Table 3).

At 102.7 in January, the freight TSI is at its lowest level since May 2003 when it was 102.5 and is down 9.2 percent from its historic peak of 113.1 reached in November 2005. For additional historical data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

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 7.8 percent decline from January to January left the freight index at its lowest January level since 2002 (Table 4).

The 2.3 percent decline in January resulted in a 3.5 percent drop in the freight index in the five years from January 2004, the second five-year decline in the 19-year history of TSI data. The first ever five-year decline was a 2.7 percent decrease from December 2003 to December 2008. The index is still up 2.9 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 February index is scheduled for April 8.

BTS has issued a 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 fell 0.3 percent in January from its December level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI January 2009 level of 112.6 was 3.8 percent lower than the January 2008 level, the first January-to-January decrease since 2002 (Table 7). The 3.8 percent decline from January to January left the passenger index at its lowest January level since 2006 (Table 7). Despite the recent declines for the year, the passenger index is up 13.5 percent in five years and 20.6 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 1.8 percent in January from its December level (Table 8). The combined TSI January 2009 level of 104.8 was 6.8 percent lower than the January 2008 level, the first January-to-January decrease since 2007 (Table 9). The 6.8 percent decline from January to January left the combined index at its lowest January level since 2004 (Table 9). However, the combined index is up 0.5 percent in five years and 7.2 percent in 10 years (Table 5).

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

More on TSI

NOTE: TSI numbers for September (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The September Freight TSI is 107.0, revised from the 108.0 reported in last months release. The September Passenger TSI is 116.3, revised from 114.9. The September Combined TSI is 108.9, revised from 109.4. The TSI for October, November, December and January 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 comprehensive revision conducted in July 2007 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 July 2008
Percent Change by Month
(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  Freight Passenger Combined
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
July 111.3 1.4 118.3 0.0 112.6 1.0
August 108.7 -2.3 116.8 -1.3 110.3 -2.0
SeptemberR 107.0 -1.6 116.3 -0.4 108.9 -1.3
OctoberP 109.1 2.0 114.3 -1.8 110.1 1.1
NovemberP 107.6 -1.4 114.0 -0.2 108.8 -1.1
DecemberP 105.1 -2.3 113.0 -0.9 106.7 -1.9
JanuaryP 102.7 -2.3 112.6 -0.3 104.8 -1.8

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, 2006-2009
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2006 % Growth 2007 % Growth 2008 % Growth 2009 % Growth
January 0.4 -0.3 2.8 (P) -2.3
February -1.4 0.0 0.1  
March 0.4 1.1 -2.9  
April -0.3 -0.4 1.1  
May 2.4 -0.1 0.4  
June -0.3 -0.7 -0.2  
July -0.9 0.1 1.4  
August -2.5 0.5 -2.3  
September 0.9 -0.9 (R) -1.6  
October -0.1 1.7 (P) 2.0  
November -1.4 0.4 (P) -1.4  
December 0.6 -1.7 (P) -2.3  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2000-2009
Percent change from December of previous year
December to January

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2000 -0.7 0.1 -0.5
2001 1.4 0.6 1.1
2002 0.9 0.3 0.7
2003 -1.3 -0.8 -1.2
2004 -1.5 -1.2 -1.4
2005 1.7 1.4 1.6
2006 0.4 1.9 0.8
2007 -0.3 -0.1 -0.3
2008 2.8 -0.1 2.1
2009P -2.3 -0.3 -1.8

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

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

Excel | CSV

  Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2000 104.2 4.4
2001 99.2 -4.8
2002 98.2 -1.0
2003 103.3 5.2
2004 106.5 3.1
2005 112.9 6.0
2006 111.7 -1.0
2007 108.5 -2.9
2008 111.4 2.7
2009P 102.7 -7.8

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 2009 (January to January)

Excel | CSV

Since January . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to January 2009 Passenger TSI Percent change to January 2009 Combined TSI Percent change to January 2009
2008 1 -7.8 -3.8 -6.8
2007 2 -5.3 -1.2 -4.3
2006 3 -8.1 1.6 -5.8
2005 4 -9.0 4.4 -5.9
2004 5 -3.5 13.5 0.5
2003 6 -0.5 16.3 3.5
2002 7 4.6 23.0 9.0
2001 8 3.6 10.9 4.8
2000 9 -1.5 18.1 3.4
1999 10 2.9 20.6 7.2

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The percent changes to January 2009 are all preliminary.

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2006-2009
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2006 % Growth 2007 % Growth 2008 % Growth 2009 % Growth
January 1.9 -0.1 -0.1 (P) -0.3
February -0.6 -2.0 -0.5  
March 1.0 2.2 0.8  
April 0.3 0.5 0.7  
May 0.6 1.5 0.1  
June -1.0 -0.2 -0.1  
July 0.5 -0.1 0.0  
August 0.0 1.1 -1.3  
September 0.9 -0.1 (R) -0.4  
October 0.4 0.7 (P) -1.8  
November -0.2 -1.5 (P) -0.2  
December 1.1 0.7 (P) -0.9  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

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

Excel | CSV

  Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2000 95.3 2.1
2001 101.6 6.5
2002 91.5 -9.9
2003 96.8 5.8
2004 99.2 2.5
2005 107.9 8.7
2006 110.9 2.8
2007 114.0 2.8
2008 117.1 2.7
2009P 112.6 -3.8

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, 2006-2009
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2006 % Growth 2007 % Growth 2008 % Growth 2009 % Growth
January 0.8 -0.3 2.1 (P) -1.8
February -1.2 -0.5 -0.1  
March 0.6 1.4 -2.0  
April -0.1 -0.2 1.0  
May 2.0 0.3 0.3  
June -0.4 -0.6 -0.1  
July -0.6 0.0 1.0  
August -1.9 0.7 -2.0  
September 0.9 -0.7 (R) -1.3  
October 0.1 1.4 (P) 1.1  
November -1.1 -0.1 (P) -1.1  
December 0.7 -1.1 (P) -1.9  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

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

Excel | CSV

  TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2000 101.4 3.7
2001 100.0 -1.4
2002 96.2 -3.8
2003 101.3 5.4
2004 104.3 2.9
2005 111.3 6.8
2006 111.2 -0.1
2007 109.5 -1.6
2008 112.5 2.7
2009P 104.8 -6.8

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

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.