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North American Transportation Statistics: Almost 93 Million Personal Vehicles Entered the United States in 2011

North American Transportation Statistics: Almost 93 Million Personal Vehicles Entered the United States in 2011

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BTS 52-12
Dave Smallen
202-366-5568

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - Almost 93 million personal vehicles entered the United States in 2011, 31.6 million from Canada, and 61.2 million from Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics' (BTS). Additionally, 10.4 million trucks, 322 thousand buses, and 35 thousand trains entered the United States last year (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, released the data as part of the eighth annual update of the North American Transportation Statistics (NATS) online database. A product of the North American Transportation Statistics Interchange established in 1991, the NATS online database contains the most comparable transportation-related data available from the United States, Canada, and Mexico in a one-stop online resource.

The database covers the following subject areas: demographics, transportation, the economy, transportation safety, transportations impact on energy and the environment, domestic and international freight activity, domestic and international passenger travel, transportation infrastructure, and vehicles. The NATS online database is co-sponsored by BTS and the U.S. Census Bureau with the federal-level transportation and statistical agencies of Canada and Mexico.

The NATS online database includes data on U.S. trade and transportation with Canada and Mexico. In 2011, goods valued at more than $1.06 trillion crossed the U.S. border in trade with Canada and Mexico, 15 percent higher than in 2010, and 44 percent higher than 2009 (Table 2).

The economic recovery from the recent global economic downturn has shown different effects on freight shipment between the United States, Canada and Mexico. The total trade between the United States and Mexico experienced a 17 percent decrease in 2009 over 2008, but recovered quickly, and in 2011 and reached its highest level ($461 billion) since 2006. After experiencing a 40 percent decrease in 2009, the total trade between the United States and Canada also recovered and had an 12 percent increase in 2011 from 2010 (Table 2).

Data in the NATS online database show the importance of the various modes of transportation involved in the movement of goods between Canada, Mexico and the United States. Road carried 62 percent of the total freight valued at $625 billion in 2011. Rail carried 15 percent of total freight by value, followed by maritime with 11 percent, pipeline with 8 percent, and air with 4 percent. Among all modes, road had the largest increase in shipment value, $69 billion, from 2010 to 2011. The value of freight shipment for air, water, road, and rail modes reached their highest level since 2006 (NATS online database, Table 6-1c).

Data in the NATS online database also show Americas top gateways for trade with Canada and Mexico. In 2011, Laredo, Texas was the top road gateway with $117.3 billion in international road shipments passing through that gateway (Table 3).

Three new maritime indicators on the number of water ports and facilities and top handling ports by tonnage and TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) for each country were added to the NATS online database this year. These new indicators were developed in response to the need for harmonized data to support maritime transportation decision-making at national and trilateral levels.

With text available in English, French, and Spanish, the NATS online database can be found at http://aplicaciones3.sct.gob.mx/nats/jsp/publico/index.html. Additionally, the NATS incorporates technical and methodological footnotes to provide users with interpretation and analysis.

Table 1.2011 Vehicle Crossings into the United States

(thousands of crossings)

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  From Canada From Mexico Total
Personal Vehicle 31,596 61,180 92,776
Truck 5,490 4,868 10,358
Bus 114 208 322
Train 27 8 35

SOURCE: North American Transportation Statistics Online Database, available at http://aplicaciones3.sct.gob.mx/nats/jsp/publico/index.html, as of October 25, 2012.

NOTES: Truck crossings: Number of arriving trucks; does not include privately owned pick-up trucks.
Train crossings: Rail data for U.S.-Mexico border are for rail (loaded and unloaded) containers and U.S.-Canada numbers are for number of trains, not containers. Privately owned vehicle crossings: Number of privately owned vehicles (POVs) arriving at a particular port.  Includes pick-up trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, taxis, snow-mobiles, ambulances, hearses, and other motorized private ground vehicles. Bus crossings: Number of arriving buses at a particular port, whether or not they are carrying passengers.

Table 2.U.S. Merchandise Trade with Canada and Mexico by Freight Transportation Mode

(billions of current dollars)

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Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Percent change, 2006 - 2011 Average Annual growth rate (%) 2006 - 2011
Total trade with Canada and Mexico 866,099 908,888 963,923 735,174 917,647 1,057,924 22.1 4.1
Air 35,901 37,595 40,805 39,240 45,083 45,539 26.8 4.9
Water transport 70,071 73,990 93,244 59,238 81,235 108,253 54.5 9.1
Road 533,657 554,831 554,434 454,827 556,884 625,857 17.3 3.2
Rail 128,871 137,859 140,424 95,624 131,228 151,852 17.8 3.3
Pipeline 56,807 59,306 87,776 49,205 62,933 80,727 42.1 7.3
Total trade with Canada 533,673 561,548 596,470 429,639 524,672 597,275 11.9 2.3
Air 24,416 26,087 27,823 24,352 26,728 27,985 14.6 2.8
Water transport 21,085 24,630 31,838 19,545 26,883 32,259 53.0 8.9
Road 314,202 324,747 319,946 247,623 296,826 330,655 5.2 1.0
Rail 85,736 91,459 93,194 61,031 83,112 94,688 10.4 2.0
Pipeline 56,045 58,350 86,332 48,262 60,713 76,953 37.3 6.5
Total trade with Mexico 332,426 347,340 367,453 305,535 392,975 460,649 38.6 6.7
Air 11,485 11,508 12,982 14,888 18,355 17,554 52.8 8.9
Water transport 48,986 49,360 61,406 39,693 54,352 75,995 55.1 9.2
Road 219,455 230,084 234,488 207,204 260,058 295,203 34.5 6.1
Rail 43,135 46,400 47,230 34,593 48,116 57,165 32.5 5.8
Pipeline 762 956 1,444 943 2,220 3,774 395.2 37.7

SOURCE: North American Transportation Statistics Online Database, available at http://aplicaciones3.sct.gob.mx/nats/jsp/publico/index.html, as of October 25, 2012.

NOTES: Individual modes do not sum to total trade figures because the total includes freight moved by "other modes" such as aircraft from manufacturer to customers, pedestrians carrying freight, and miscellaneous. Due to the rounding of certain numbers tabulated, sum totals of U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico trade vary slightly.

Table 3. Top 10 U.S. Gateways Trading with Canada and Mexico by Truck

Ranked by 2011 Road Trade Value

(millions of dollars)

Excel | CSV

Rank Gateway 2011 Trade
1 Laredo, TX 117,322
2 Detroit, MI 98,679
3 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 62,150
4 El Paso, TX 50,971
5 Port Huron, MI 47,749
6 Otay Mesa, CA 32,810
7 Hidalgo, TX 23,538
8 Champlain-Rouses Point, NY 21,052
9 Santa Teresa, NM 17,725
10 Pembina, ND 16,901

SOURCE: North American Transportation Statistics Online Database, available at http://aplicaciones3.sct.gob.mx/nats/jsp/publico/index.html, as of October 25, 2012.