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Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI): Freight Shipments Fell 1.5% in February from January

Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI): Freight Shipments Fell 1.5% in February from January

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BTS 19-11
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Freight Transportation Services Index, Mar 2009-Feb 2011

Table Version | Excel | CSV

Freight Transportation Services Index, Mar 2009-Feb 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry declined 1.5 percent in February from January, falling after two consecutive monthly increases, according to the U.S. Department of Transportations Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that shipments measured by the Freight TSI rose 12.9 percent over the last 22 months, starting in May 2009, after declining 15.7 percent in the previous 16 months beginning in January 2008.

Freight shipments have increased in 16 of the last 22 months (Table 2). In February 2011, freight shipments were at about the same level as in September 2008 when the amount of freight was early in the decline. For additional historic data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments in ton-miles, which are then combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

For the first two months of 2011, freight shipments measured by the index were down 0.6 percent, trending down following a 6.4 percent rise in freight shipments for the full year 2010 and a 2.1 percent rise in during the final three months of 2010 (Table 3). See the March 9 TSI press release.

Freight shipments in February (106.5 on the index) rose 12.9 percent, from the recent low in April 2009 (94.3). In April, freight shipments were at their lowest level since July 1997. The February level is down from the historic freight shipment peak reached in January 2005 (113.3)

Although freight shipments rose 4.1 percent from February 2010 to February 2011, they remain below the recent high for the month of February (111.6) reached in 2008 (Table 4). December 2009 was the first month since September 2008 in which shipments measured by the Freight TSI exceeded the level of the same month of the previous year. Since then, shipments have exceeded the previous years level every month but still remains below the level of years before the most recent year.

The freight index is down 3.0 percent in the five years from February 2006. The index is up 7.7 percent in the 10 years from February 2001 despite recent declines (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 March index is scheduled for May 11.

For a video explanation of the TSI, see Overview of the Transportation Services Index. A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

Transportation Services Index for Passengers

The TSI for passengers fell 1.0 percent in February from its January level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI February 2011 level of 112.9 was 4.2 percent above the February 2010 level (Table 7). The index is up 2.2 percent in five years and up 13.4 percent in 10 years (Table 5).

The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel conducted in the for-hire passenger transportation sector. 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 1.3 percent in February from its January level (Table 8). The combined TSI February 2011 level of 108.2 was 4.1 percent higher than the February 2010 level (Table 9). The combined index is down 1.6 percent in five years and up 9.1 percent in 10 years despite recent declines (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

More on TSI

NOTE: TSI numbers for October (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The October Freight TSI is 105.2, unchanged from the 105.2 reported in last months release. The October Passenger TSI is 114.7, revised from 114.9. The October Combined TSI is 107.7, unchanged from 107.7. The TSI for November, December, January and February 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

More information about the comprehensive revision conducted with the March release is provided under 2011 Comprehensive Revision at http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes since August 2010
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
August 103.9 -0.4 112.6 0.2 106.2 -0.2
September 105.0 1.1 113.7 1.0 107.3 1.0
OctoberR 105.2 0.2 114.7 0.9 107.7 0.4
NovemberP 104.4 -0.8 113.8 -0.8 106.8 -0.8
DecemberP 107.1 2.7 112.8 -0.8 108.6 1.7
JanuaryP 108.1 0.9 113.9 1.0 109.6 0.9
FebruaryP 106.5 -1.5 112.9 -1.0 108.2 -1.3

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, 2008-2011
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2008 % Growth 2009 % Growth 2010 % Growth 2011 % Growth
January 1.8 -2.4 0.5 (P) 0.9
February -0.2 2.8 1.1 (P) -1.5
March -1.7 -4.0 1.2
April 0.6 -1.6 0.1
May -0.1 0.3 0.5
June -0.4 1.0 -0.1
July 0.2 1.6 0.3
August -1.7 1.5 -0.4
September -1.0 -0.5 1.1
October -1.1 -0.7 (R) 0.2
November -2.5 2.9 (P) -0.8
December -3.6 0.6 (P) 2.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2002-2011
Percent change from December of previous year
December to February

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2002 1.5 3.8 2.2
2003 -2.2 -2.4 -2.2
2004 2.1 2.9 2.3
2005 1.3 1.5 1.4
2006 -1.5 1.2 -0.7
2007 -1.4 -0.4 -1.1
2008 1.5 1.2 1.4
2009 0.4 -0.5 0.1
2010 1.6 -1.6 0.7
2011P -0.6 0.0 -0.4

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

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

Excel | CSV

  Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 99.3 0.4
2003 102.1 2.9
2004 109.7 7.4
2005 111.6 1.8
2006 109.8 -1.6
2007 108.3 -1.4
2008 111.6 3.0
2009 99.8 -10.5
2010 102.3 2.5
2011P 106.5 4.1

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 2011 (February to February)

Excel | CSV

Since February... Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to February 2011 Passenger TSI Percent change to February 2011 Combined TSI Percent change to February 2011
2010 1 4.1 4.2 4.1
2009 2 6.7 2.4 5.5
2008 3 -4.5 -4.8 -4.6
2007 4 -1.6 -0.8 -1.4
2006 5 -3.0 2.2 -1.6
2005 6 -4.6 4.4 -2.1
2004 7 -2.9 9.2 0.4
2003 8 4.3 18.6 8.1
2002 9 7.3 21.1 11.0
2001 10 7.7 13.4 9.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The percent changes to February 2011 are all preliminary.

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2008-2011
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2008 % Growth 2009 % Growth 2010 % Growth 2011 % Growth
January -0.2 -1.0 0.6 (P) 1.0
February 1.4 0.5 -2.1 (P) -1.0
March -1.3 -1.4 2.3
April 0.0 1.4 0.2
May 0.6 -1.7 0.6
June -0.9 0.5 0.8
July -0.1 1.5 -0.2
August -1.3 -0.1 0.2
September -1.4 -0.6 1.0
October -0.8 0.1 (R) 0.9
November -1.7 -0.1 (P) -0.8
December 0.1 0.2 (P) -0.8

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

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

Excel | CSV

  Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 93.2 -6.4
2003 95.2 2.1
2004 103.3 8.6
2005 108.1 4.6
2006 110.4 2.2
2007 113.8 3.0
2008 118.5 4.1
2009 110.2 -7.0
2010 108.3 -1.7
2011P 112.9 4.2

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, 2008-2011
Percent change from previous month

Excel | CSV

  2008 % Growth 2009 % Growth 2010 % Growth 2011 % Growth
January 1.2 -2.0 0.5 (P) 0.9
February 0.2 2.2 0.2 (P) -1.3
March -1.6 -3.3 1.5
April 0.4 -0.8 0.1
May 0.1 -0.3 0.5
June -0.6 0.9 0.1
July 0.1 1.6 0.1
August -1.6 1.1 -0.2
September -1.1 -0.5 1.0
October -1.0 -0.5 (R) 0.4
November -2.3 2.1 (P) -0.8
December -2.6 0.5 (P) 1.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

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

Excel | CSV

  Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 97.4 -1.7
2003 100.0 2.7
2004 107.7 7.7
2005 110.5 2.6
2006 109.9 -0.5
2007 109.7 -0.2
2008 113.4 3.4
2009 102.5 -9.6
2010 103.9 1.3
2011P 108.2 4.1

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 freight index measure changes in freight shipments while the passenger index measures changes in passenger travel.

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.