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Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI): Freight Shipments Rose 1.9% in March from February

Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI): Freight Shipments Rose 1.9% in March from February

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BTS 24-11
Dave Smallen
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Freight Transportation Services Index, Apr 2009-Mar 2011

Table Version | Excel | CSV

Freight Transportation Services Index, Apr 2009-Mar 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry increased 1.9 percent in March from February to reach the highest level since July 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics' (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today (Table 1). The March increase followed a decline in February.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that shipments measured by the Freight TSI rose 15.1 percent over the last 23 months, starting in May 2009, after declining 15.7 percent in the previous 16 months beginning in January 2008.

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.

Recent trend: Freight shipments have increased in 17 of the last 23 months (Table 2). In March 2011, freight shipments reached their highest level since July 2008 when the amount of freight shipped was early in its decline. For additional historic data, go to http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml

Year-to-date: Freight shipments reached a 33-month high in March despite a slight slowdown in the rate of growth in the beginning of 2011 compared to the end of 2010. For the first three months of 2011, freight shipments measured by the index were up 1.3 percent following a 2.1 percent increase during the final three months of 2010 (Tables 3, 10). See the March 9 TSI press release.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in March (108.6 on the index) rose 15.1 percent, from the recent low in April 2009 (94.3). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since July 1997. The March level is down 4.2 percent from the historic freight shipment peak reached in January 2005 (113.3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are down 2.1 percent in the five years from March 2006. Shipments are up 9.4 percent in the 10 years from March 2001 despite recent declines (Table 5).

Same month of previous year: Although freight shipments rose 4.8 percent from March 2010 to March 2011, they remain below the recent high for the month of March (111.7) reached in 2005 (Table 4).

1st Quarter Changes: The Freight TSI rose 1.3 percent in the first quarter, the seventh consecutive quarterly increase since the second quarter of 2009 (Table 10).

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.

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.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.2 percent in March from its February level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI March 2011 level of 113.1 was 2.1 percent above the March 2010 level (Table 7). The index is up 1.6 percent in five years and up 12.1 percent in 10 years (Table 5). The Passenger TSI rose 0.2 percent in the first quarter, following a decline in the previous quarter, for the seventh increase in the past eight quarters (Table 11).

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 Index: The combined freight and passenger TSI rose 1.4 percent in March from its February level (Table 8). The combined TSI March 2011 level of 109.7 was 4.0 percent higher than the March 2010 level (Table 9). The combined index is down 1.1 percent in five years and up 10.0 percent in 10 years despite recent declines (Table 5). The combined TSI rose 1.0 percent in the first quarter, the seventh consecutive quarterly increase since the second quarter of 2009 (Table 12). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: 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, unchanged from the 104.4 reported in last month's release. The November Passenger TSI is 114.4, revised from 113.8. The November Combined TSI is 107.0, revised from 106.8. 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, 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 September 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
September 105.0 1.1 113.7 1.0 107.3 1.0
October 105.2 0.2 114.7 0.9 107.7 0.4
NovemberR 104.4 -0.7 114.4 -0.3 107.0 -0.6
DecemberP 107.1 2.6 112.8 -1.4 108.6 1.5
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
MarchP 108.6 1.9 113.1 0.2 109.7 1.4

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 (P) 1.9
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 0.2
November -2.5 2.9 (R) -0.7
December -3.6 0.6 (P) 2.6  

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 March

Excel | CSV

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2002 0.9 3.8 1.7
2003 -0.9 -4.0 -1.7
2004 1.9 1.8 1.8
2005 1.4 1.9 1.5
2006 -0.5 2.0 0.2
2007 0.9 2.1 1.3
2008 -0.2 -0.1 -0.2
2009 -3.6 -1.9 -3.1
2010 2.9 0.7 2.3
2011P 1.3 0.2 1.0

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
2002 98.7 -0.6
2003 103.5 4.9
2004 109.4 5.8
2005 111.7 2.1
2006 110.9 -0.7
2007 110.8 -0.1
2008 109.6 -1.0
2009 95.9 -12.5
2010 103.6 8.0
2011P 108.6 4.8

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 2011 (March to March)

Excel | CSV

Since February ... Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to March 2011 Passenger TSI Percent change to March 2011 Combined TSI Percent change to March 2011
2010 1 4.8 2.1 4.0
2009 2 13.2 4.1 10.6
2008 3 -1.0 -3.3 -1.7
2007 4 -2.0 -3.1 -2.3
2006 5 -2.1 1.6 -1.1
2005 6 -2.8 4.3 -0.9
2004 7 -0.8 10.6 2.3
2003 8 4.9 20.8 9.2
2002 9 10.0 21.2 13.1
2001 10 9.4 12.1 10.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The percent changes to March 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 (P) 0.2
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 0.9
November -1.7 -0.1 (R) -0.3
December 0.1 0.2 (P) -1.4

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
2002 93.3 -7.6
2003 93.6 0.4
2004 102.2 9.2
2005 108.4 6.1
2006 111.2 2.6
2007 116.6 4.9
2008 116.9 0.3
2009 108.7 -7.1
2010 110.8 2.0
2011P 113.1 2.1

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 (P) 1.4
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 0.4
November -2.3 2.1 (R) -0.6
December -2.6 0.5 (P) 1.5

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

  Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2002 97.0 -2.8
2003 100.5 3.6
2004 107.2 6.7
2005 110.7 3.2
2006 110.9 0.2
2007 112.3 1.3
2008 111.6 -0.7
2009 99.2 -11.1
2010 105.5 6.3
2011P 109.7 4.0

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, 2002-2011
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
2002 0.9 3.0 1.0 1.8
2003 -0.9 -1.0 1.8 3.0
2004 1.9 0.5 -0.4 0.6
2005 1.4 -0.6 -0.3 0.7
2006 -0.5 0.9 -0.6 -1.3
2007 0.9 -2.2 -0.2 1.6
2008 -0.2 0.1 -2.5 -7.0
2009 -3.6 -0.4 2.6 2.8
2010 2.9 0.5 0.9 (P) 2.1
2011 (P) 1.3      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 11: Passenger Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2002-2011
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
2002 3.8 1.6 -1.0 3.9
2003 -4.0 0.1 4.5 2.5
2004 1.8 2.1 -0.9 2.9
2005 1.9 0.5 0.9 -0.9
2006 2.0 0.1 -0.8 3.3
2007 2.1 0.4 0.7 -0.6
2008 -0.1 -0.3 -2.7 -2.3
2009 -1.9 0.1 0.8 0.3
2010 0.7 1.6 1.0 (P) -0.8
2011 (P) 0.2      

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 12: Combined Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2001-2010
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
2002 1.7 2.6 0.4 2.4
2003 -1.7 -0.7 2.6 2.9
2004 1.8 1.0 -0.5 1.2
2005 1.5 -0.2 0.0 0.2
2006 0.2 0.7 -0.7 0.0
2007 1.3 -1.5 0.0 1.0
2008 -0.2 0.0 -2.6 -5.8
2009 -3.1 -0.2 2.1 2.1
2010 2.3 0.8 0.9 (P) 1.3
2011 (P) 1.0      

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 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.