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Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Fell 0.6 Percent in May from April

Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Fell 0.6 Percent in May from April

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BTS 33-09
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Thursday, July 9, 2009 - The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) fell 0.6 percent in May from its April level, declining for the third consecutive month to the lowest level in 12 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today (Table 1). The May decline was the smallest of the three consecutive decreases.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the May decrease was the ninth decline in the Freight TSI in the last 10 months (Table 2). The index has declined 14.8 percent in that 10-month period. For additional historical data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

The May Freight TSI of 94.0 is the lowest level since June 1997 when it was 92.4. The Freight TSI is down 16.7 percent from its historic peak of 112.9 reached in May 2006.

The 6.3 percent decline in the first five months of 2009 was the largest in the last decade, exceeding the 5.3 percent decline for the first five months of 2000 (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 14.8 percent decline in the Freight TSI from May 2008 to May 2009 was the largest May-to-May decline in the 20 years for which the TSI is calculated (Table 4).

The freight index is also down 14.6 percent in the five years from May 2004, the sixth consecutive month in which the index declined for a five-year period. The index is down 8.4 percent in 10 years for the fifth-ever and the largest 10-year decline in the 20-year history of TSI data (Table 5). All these five 10-year declines took place in first five months of 2009.

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 June index is scheduled for Aug. 12.

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 0.9 percent in May from its April level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI May 2009 level of 109.4 was 7.3 percent lower than the May 2008 level, the largest May-to-May decrease in the 20-year history of the series, and exceeded the 6.1 percent decrease in 2002 caused by Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack (Table 7). Despite the recent declines, the passenger index is up 6.8 percent in five years and 17.6 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 0.7 percent in May from its April level (Table 8). The combined TSI May 2009 level of 97.4 was 13.0 percent lower than the May 2008 level, leaving the index at its lowest May level since 1998 (Table 9). The combined index is down 9.6 percent in five years for the sixth five-year decline in the history of the combined index, and is down 2.1 percent in 10 years for the third-ever 10-year decline in the index (Table 5). All these five-year and 10-year declines took place consecutively in the past several months.

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

More on TSI

In this month's release, BTS conducted its third comprehensive revision to the TSI in which all index numbers through April 2009 were revised to reflect revisions to the source data and changes in the estimated seasonal factors and the method for calculating aggregation weights. More information about the comprehensive revision and its effects on index numbers is provided under 2009 Comprehensive Revision at http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

NOTE: TSI numbers for January (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The January Freight TSI is 97.8, revised from the 102.7 reported in last month's release. The January Passenger TSI is 110.0, revised from 112.6. The January Combined TSI is 100.5, revised from 104.8. The TSI for February, March, April and May 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, is available at http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes since November 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
November 103.2 -2.2 111.8 -1.8 105.1 -2.1
December 100.3 -2.8 110.8 -0.9 102.6 -2.4
JanuaryR 97.8 -2.5 110.0 -0.7 100.5 -2.1
FebruaryP 99.1 1.3 110.2 0.2 101.6 1.1
MarchP 95.6 -3.6 108.8 -1.2 98.5 -3.0
AprilP 94.6 -1.0 110.3 1.4 98.1 -0.4
MayP 94.0 -0.6 109.4 -0.9 97.4 -0.7

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 0.3 -0.6 2.3 (R) -2.5
February -1.4 -0.3 -0.9 (P) 1.3
March 0.7 1.9 -1.4 (P) -3.6
April -0.4 -0.7 0.6 (P) -1.0
May 2.3 -0.4 0.0 (P) -0.6
June -0.8 -1.0 -0.8  
July -0.8 -0.3 0.8  
August -2.3 0.7 -2.2  
September 2.5 -1.0 -1.6  
October -1.5 1.7 -0.6  
November -1.4 0.6 -2.2  
December 1.3 -0.1 -2.8  

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 May

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2000 -5.3 6.0 -1.9
2001 2.2 -0.3 1.4
2002 3.8 3.5 3.7
2003 -1.9 -5.8 -3.0
2004 1.9 1.6 1.8
2005 0.6 2.1 1.0
2006 1.5 2.2 1.7
2007 -0.2 3.6 0.8
2008 0.5 -0.3 0.3
2009P -6.3 -1.2 -5.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

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

Excel | CSV

  Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2000 99.5 -3.1
2001 100.0 0.5
2002 101.1 1.1
2003 102.5 1.4
2004 110.1 7.4
2005 111.5 1.3
2006 112.9 1.2
2007 109.2 -3.3
2008 110.4 1.2
2009P 94.0 -14.8

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 (May to May)

Excel | CSV

Since May... Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to May 2009 Passenger TSI Percent change to May 2009 Combined TSI Percent change to May 2009
2008 1 -14.8 -7.3 -13.0
2007 2 -13.9 -8.0 -12.4
2006 3 -16.7 -2.1 -13.3
2005 4 -15.7 0.5 -11.9
2004 5 -14.6 6.8 -9.6
2003 6 -8.3 18.7 -2.0
2002 7 -7.0 15.9 -1.7
2001 8 -6.0 8.9 -2.8
2000 9 -5.5 8.5 -2.5
1999 10 -8.4 17.6 -2.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The percent changes to May 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 1.3 0.3 -0.2 (R) -0.7
February -0.1 -0.7 -1.0 (P) 0.2
March 0.3 2.0 0.2 (P) -1.2
April 0.5 -0.3 1.1 (P) 1.4
May 0.2 2.4 -0.5 (P) -0.9
June -0.9 -2.1 -0.4  
July 0.2 -0.3 -0.2  
August -0.9 1.0 -1.1  
September 1.1 1.4 -0.6  
October 1.3 -0.8 -1.4  
November 0.9 -0.5 -1.8  
December 1.0 0.9 -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 May Passenger TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

Excel | CSV

  Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2000 100.9 8.5
2001 100.5 -0.4
2002 94.4 -6.1
2003 92.2 -2.3
2004 102.4 11.1
2005 108.9 6.3
2006 111.7 2.6
2007 118.9 6.4
2008 118.0 -0.8
2009P 109.4 -7.3

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 0.5 -0.4 1.7 (R) -2.1
February -1.0 -0.4 -0.9 (P) 1.1
March 0.6 1.9 -1.0 (P) -3.0
April -0.1 -0.6 0.7 (P) -0.4
May 1.7 0.3 -0.1 (P) -0.7
June -0.8 -1.3 -0.7  
July -0.6 -0.3 0.6  
August -2.0 0.8 -2.0  
September 2.2 -0.4 -1.3  
October -0.8 1.1 -0.8  
November -0.9 0.3 -2.1  
December 1.2 0.2 -2.4  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

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

Excel | CSV

  TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2000 99.9 0.4
2001 100.2 0.3
2002 99.1 -1.1
2003 99.4 0.4
2004 107.8 8.4
2005 110.6 2.6
2006 112.4 1.6
2007 111.3 -1.0
2008 112.0 0.7
2009P 97.4 -13.0

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.