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Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Fell 3.3 Percent in March from February

Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Fell 3.3 Percent in March from February

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BTS 23-09
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) fell 3.3 percent in March from its February level, falling to its lowest level in more than six years, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today (Table 1).

The March decrease was the largest monthly drop for any month since March 2000 (Tables 1, 2). For additional historical data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

The 3.6 percent decline in the first three months of 2009 is the second largest in the last decade, exceeded only by a 4.8 percent decline for the first three months of 2000 (Table 3).

The March level of the Freight TSI of 101.4 is the lowest since May 2002 when it was 101.1. The Freight TSI is down 10.4 percent from its historic peak of 113.1 reached in November 2005.

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 6.4 percent decline from March 2008 to March 2009 was the largest March-to-March decline in the 20 years for which the TSI is calculated (Table 4).

With the March decrease, the index is down 7.7 percent in the five years from March 2004, the fourth consecutive month in which the index declined for a five-year period. The index is down 1.3 percent in 10 years for the first ever 10-year decline in the 20-year history of TSI data (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 10.

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 1.0 percent in March from its February level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI March 2009 level of 111.6 was 4.9 percent lower than the March 2008 level, the first March-to-March decrease since 2002 (Table 7). Despite the recent declines, the passenger index is up 9.3 percent in five years and 19.1 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 2.7 percent in March from its February level (Table 8). The combined TSI March 2009 level of 103.5 was 6.0 percent lower than the March 2008 level, leaving the index at its lowest March level since 2003 (Table 9). The 6.0 percent decline from March to March left the combined index at its lowest March level since 2003 (Table 9). The combined index is down 3.7 percent in five years for the second five-year decline in the history of the combined index, but is up 3.7 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 fell 3.6 percent in the first quarter, for the third consecutive quarterly decline and the largest quarterly decline since the 4.8 percent decrease in the first quarter of 2000. The combination of the first quarter decline with the 2008 declines of 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter and 2.5 percent in the third-quarter resulted in the largest decline for any three consecutive quarters in the 20-year history of the series (Table 10). The Passenger TSI fell 1.2 percent in the first quarter, the third consecutive quarterly decline. (Table 11). The Combined TSI fell 3.0 percent in the first quarter, also falling for the third 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 104.4, revised from the 107.6 reported in last month's release. The November Passenger TSI is 112.5, revised from 114.0. The November Combined TSI is 106.0, revised from 108.8. 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 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 September 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
September 107.0 -1.6 116.3 -0.4 108.9 -1.3
October 106.7 -0.3 114.9 -1.2 108.3 -0.5
NovemberR 104.4 -2.1 112.5 -2.1 106.0 -2.1
DecemberP 105.1 0.7 113.0 0.5 106.7 0.7
JanuaryP 102.7 -2.3 112.6 -0.3 104.8 -1.8
FebruaryP 104.8 2.0 112.8 0.1 106.4 1.5
MarchP 101.4 -3.3 111.6 -1.0 103.5 -2.7

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 (P) 2.0
March 0.4 1.1 -2.9 (P) -3.3
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 -1.6  
October -0.1 1.7 -0.3  
November -1.4 0.4 (R) -2.1  
December 0.6 -1.7 (P) 0.7  

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 March

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
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
2008 -0.1 0.1 0.0
2009P -3.6 -1.2 -3.0

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

  Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
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
2008 108.3 -1.4
2009P 101.4 -6.4

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 2009 (March to March)

Excel | CSV

Since March... Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to March 2009 Passenger TSI Percent change to March 2009 Combined TSI Percent change to March 2009
2008 1 -6.4 -4.9 -6.0
2007 2 -7.6 -2.2 -6.3
2006 3 -8.4 0.3 -6.3
2005 4 -9.5 3.0 -6.5
2004 5 -7.7 9.3 -3.7
2003 6 -1.6 19.1 3.3
2002 7 2.6 19.8 6.7
2001 8 2.0 11.1 3.8
2000 9 1.5 12.6 3.9
1999 10 -1.3 19.1 3.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The percent changes to March 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 (P) 0.1
March 1.0 2.2 0.8 (P) -1.0
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 -0.4  
October 0.4 0.7 -1.2  
November -0.2 -1.5 (R) -2.1  
December 1.1 0.7 (P) 0.5  

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

  Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
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
2008 117.4 2.8
2009P 111.6 -4.9

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 (P) 1.5
March 0.6 1.4 -2.0 (P) -2.7
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 -1.3  
October 0.1 1.4 -0.5  
November -1.1 -0.1 (R) -2.1  
December 0.7 -1.1 (P) 0.7  

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 Combined TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  TSI Percent change from same month previous year
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
2008 110.1 -0.4
2009P 103.5 -6.0

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, 2000-2009
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
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 0.4
2008 -0.1 1.4 -2.5 (P) -1.7
2009 (P) -3.6      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 11: Passenger Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2000-2009
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
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 -0.1
2008 0.1 0.7 -1.6 (P) -2.9
2009 (P) -1.2      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 12: Combined Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2000-2009
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
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 0.2
2008 0.0 1.2 -2.3 (P) -2.0
2009 (P) -3.0      

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.