Transportation Capital Stock

Transportation Capital Stock

Highway-related capital stock (highway infrastructure, consumer motor vehicles, and trucking and warehousing) represented the majority of the nation’s transportation capital stock, $2,166 billion in 2000 (in 1996 chained dollars1). Highway infrastructure constituted 57 percent of highway-related capital stock in 2000, or $1,234 billion (figure 81). Rail—at $342 billion—also represented a substantial portion of transportation capital stock; although, it was still less than one-sixth of highway-related capital stocks. The combined value of capital stocks for other modes of the transportation system, including rail, water, air, pipeline, and transit, is less than the value of consumer motor vehicles alone (figure 82).

All highway-related capital stocks increased between 1990 and 2000. In-house transportation grew substantially (81 percent). Transportation services, a component of all modes, also experienced rapid growth, with an 83 percent increase in capital stock. In fact, rail and water were the only modes that experienced a decrease in capital stock, shrinking by 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Pipeline capital stocks increased only modestly, growing 5 percent between 1990 and 2000.

Capital stock is a commonly used economic measure of the capacity of the transportation system. It combines the capabilities of modes, components, and owners into a single measure of capacity in dollar value. This measure takes into account both the quantity of each component (through initial investment) and its condition (through depreciation and retirements).

With the exception of highway and street data, the capital stock data presented here pertain only to that owned by the private sector. For instance, railroad companies own their own trackage. All of these data are available from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics [1, 2]. The Bureau of Transpor-tation Statistics is currently developing data on publicly owned capital stock, such as airports, waterways, and transit systems.


1. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Standard Fixed Asset Tables (table 7.1 and 8.1); Private Non-Residential Fixed Assets by Detailed Industry and Detailed Asset Type, Real Cost Net Stocks; National Income and Product Accounts, Quantity and Price Indexes, various tables; available at, as of March 2003.

2. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Producer Price Indexes, All Urban Consumers, various series, available at, as of March 2003.

1 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 1996 dollars, unless otherwise specified. Current dollar amounts (which are available in appendix B of this report) were adjusted to eliminate the effects of inflation over time.