Figure 10
Modal Shares of U.S. Merchandise Trade Handled by Land, Water, and Air Gateways by Value and Weight: 20071

Figure 10
Modal Shares of U.S. Merchandise Trade Handled by Land, Water, and Air Gateways by Value and Weight: 20071

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(Percent)

  U.S. total land trade2 U.S. total water trade U.S. total air trade Other and unknown3
Value 24.1 44.9 25.1 5.9
Weight 21.7 77.7 0.4 0.1

NOTES:

1 BTS estimated the export weight for truck, rail, pipeline, and other and unknown based on value-to-weight ratios from the import data. This estimation procedure was used because U.S. exporters are not currently required to report the export weight for land modes. Weight for water and air exports and imports are from U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau.

2 Includes truck, rail, and pipeline modes.

3 Includes purchased vehicles such as aircraft or boats moving from manufacturer to customer where the vehicle itself is the shipment, pedestrians carrying freight, and miscellaneous.

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), based on data from various sources. Value data-Water and air: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division, FT920 U.S. Merchandise Trade: Selected Highlights, December 2007, available at www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/ft920_index.html as of October 2008. Truck, rail, pipeline, and other and unknown: USDOT, RITA, BTS, Transborder Freight Data, October 2008. Weight data-Water and air: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division, FT920 U.S. Merchandise Trade: Selected Highlights, December 2007, available at www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/ft920_index.html as of October 2008. Truck, rail, pipeline, and other and unknown: USDOT, RITA, BTS, TransBorder Freight Data; and special calculation, October 2008.

  • Nearly all shipments require the use of more than one mode of transportation to reach their fi nal destinations. For example, a shipment of imported goods arriving at a maritime port is transferred to rail or truck to continue its journey. Railroads tend to carry commodities long distances at low prices, while trucks often carry commodities shorter distances and more quickly.

  • Waterborne vessels account for more U.S. international trade, both in terms of tonnage and value, than any other mode-78 percent of the weight and 45 percent of the value of U.S. merchandise trade in 2007. Water transportation is less dominant in terms of value because high value-per-ton commodities often move by air and truck, particularly in U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico.

  • Intermodal rail traffic-the transport of containers or truck trailers by rail-has significantly increased during the past two decades.