Improving Transportation Statistics

Improving Transportation Statistics

The Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), Bureau of Transportation Statistics's (BTS's) program offices have taken steps to close data gaps or improve the ways in which they collect, compile, analyze, and publish data.

TransBorder Freight Data

The North American TransBorder Freight Data provide United States Canada and United States Mexico merchandise trade data by commodity type, mode of transportation (rail, truck, pipeline, water, air, and other), and geographic detail for U.S. exports to and imports from Canada and Mexico. These data are an extract of the official foreign trade statistics collected by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Data are available dating back to April 1993. The data are available via the Internet at http://www.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/.

BTS made two major changes to the TransBorder Freight Data Program in 2007. First, beginning in January 2007, the program added a new combination of U.S. port entry/exit and commodity data (at the two-digit Harmonized Tariff System level), which provides users with details on North American freight transportation not previously available.

Also in 2007, in response to customer feedback and advances in technology, the TransBorder Freight data interface was significantly improved. BTS developed a powerful online data access tool that now provides fast queries and accurate analytical results to the user. In 2009, TransBorder Freight Data web site added pie charts and interactive line charts. In 2010, BTS will add previously unavailable North American transshipment data. The TransBorder query system produces:

  • Detailed Statistics - that provides users with the ability to make queries of the following data elements:
    • U.S. State;
    • Trading partner;
    • Customs port;
    • Mode of transportation;
    • Value or Weight;
    • Imports, exports, or total trade;
    • Commodity (at the two-digit Harmonized Tariff System level);
    • Year; and
    • Month.
  • Fast Facts - provides users with fast and simple annual and monthly trade and transportation facts such as the top 10 ports, top U.S. States, and top commodities in terms of trade value or weight for different modes of transportation.

Commodity Flow Survey

BTS released the preliminary estimates from the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) in December 2008 and continued to process the data in 2009. Based on the latest economic census data, BTS made additional adjustments. Both BTS and the U.S. Census Bureau released the final data on their websites on Dec. 22, 2009. All 2007 CFS data products, as well as those from previous surveys, are available via the Internet at http://www.bts.gov/publications/commodity_flow_survey/ and via the Census Bureau's American FactFinder (AFF) - http://factfinder.census.gov/. In addition to a comprehensive set of data tables, the AFF also now allows data users to generate and produce quick reports and thematic maps.

Freight Analysis Framework

In 2010, the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Office of Freight Management and Operations will update the Freight Analysis Framework to version 3 (FAF3) making use of current freight statistics and enhanced methodologies. The Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) estimates the total volume of freight flows and related freight transportation activities among states and major metropolitan areas. FAF also forecasts pressures of future freight flows on the existing transportation network by estimating changes in those flows and activities based on shifts in economic conditions and the availability of transportation facilities, among other factors.

FHWA has continually updated and improved FAF to provide the most accurate and current national freight statistics for Federal policy evaluation, the development of national investment and operations strategies, and the starting point for understanding freight activities at State and metropolitan levels. The updated FAF3 will be based, in large part, on data from the recently published 2007 CFS, and integrate data from a variety of other public sources to fill gaps from industries not covered by the survey. Improvements are intended to balance accuracy, completeness, and transparency to make relevant freight transportation data available to the national transportation community.

Scheduled for release in summer 2010, FAF3 will provide data and national maps for 2007. Additional data, including forecasts from 2015 through 2040, recalculated 2002 and 1997 data, annual provisional estimates, and added maps will be released beginning in fall 2010 through early 2011.

When completed, FHWA will provide improved access to FAF data and documentation at http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf.

Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey

The Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS) delivers critical information for highway cost allocation studies, air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission models, and freight analysis work. Data from VIUS contributes directly to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) by providing an essential link between tonnages moved among regions and truck travel on the highway network.

Beyond the uses listed above, the survey provides data on the physical and operational characteristics of the Nation's private and commercial truck fleet. Its primary goal has been to produce national and state-level estimates of the total number of trucks. The VIUS was first conducted in 1963 and has historically been carried out by the U.S. Census Bureau every 5 years as part of the Economic Census.

The FHWA is currently leading a design study to develop a blueprint for a future VIUS program that will include a set of vehicle and geographical characteristics historically part of the VIUS because the FHWA canceled the 2007 edition of survey due to funding considerations. This study will provide specifications for a range of options should funds for reinstating the survey become available in the future.

Airline Information

The Office of Airline Information (OAI) receives data directly from carriers (airlines) relating to passengers flown, financial status, on-time performance, and the origin-destination ticket sample data including fares charged. OAI then makes this data available to its customers in three ways:

  1. The TranStats Web Site,
  2. Easy to use tables on the BTS Web Site, and
  3. For purchase on CD.

Since TSAR 2008, there have been several new developments and/or trends in aviation data.

Airline On-Time Performance Data have been enhanced with the addition of several new data fields adding detail where flights experienced long ground times (tarmac delays). The new data ᆳnate airport, and 3) flights cancelled after lengthy tarmac delays.

Airline Financial Data has been improved by standardizing the way ancillary fees are reported. With the rapid rise in fuel costs in 2008, airlines began charging fees for services formerly included in the ticketed fare. Airlines have now been directed to report these ancillary fees in a uniform way.

Easy to Use Web Tables have been introduced to the BTS website since TSAR was last pubᆳlished. Eight of the most commonly used historic airline data tables are now available, each with a single click of the mouse.

Full Time and Part Time Airline Employment Data by month are now available on the BTS webᆳsite dating back to 1990.

Tarmac Delays

In October 2008, BTS began collecting more detailed data on airline tarmac delays. The new data reports resulted from several highly publicized incidents of long tarmac times in late 2006 and early 2007. It was recognized that BTS's airline on-time data captured tarmac times only for flights that departed the gate at the origin airport and flew directly to the scheduled destination. These tarmac times are known as taxi-outs (gate departure to wheels-off) and taxi-ins (wheels-on to gate arrival).

BTS airline on-time data lacked any tarmac times for canceled flights. The data was also missing details for diverted flights at diversion airports and at the scheduled destination if the flight evenᆳtually reached there. In addition, airlines did not follow uniform procedures in reporting multiple gate departures. A final rule and a technical directive corrected these details in the data.

Airline OnTime Performance Summary tables are available at http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_information/taxi_out_and_other_tarmac_times/.

Ancillary Fees

Airlines facing rising fuel costs in early 2008 began seeking additional sources of revenue. In the second quarter of 2008, many airlines began charging passengers for services that they had previously provided free. These ancillary fees include, for example, baggage fees, seating assignment ᆳment, etc. These are fees not included on the passenger's paper/electronic ticket.

The charging of ancillary fees produced increased interest in the amount that the airlines were receiving from these charges. To ensure that airlines reported the fee revenue correctly, BTS issued Technical Directive Number 289, http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_information/accounting_and_reporting_directives/number_289.html, on Feb. 25, 2009 "to assist carriers with reporting their ancillary revenues in a like manner."

Baggage fees (Schedule P-1.2, account 3906.2) and Reservation Cancellation and Rebooking fees (Schedule P-1.2, account 3919.1) are the only fees reported separately. Other fees are to be included in general categories such as Transport-Related Revenues or Miscellaneous Operating Revenue.

After receiving the directive, several airlines revised their filings for 2008. Others indicated they had filed incorrectly, but future reports would be correct.

A complete listing of all ancillary fees and how they should be reported is found in the actual directive at: http://www.bts.gov/programs/airline_information/accounting_and_reporting_directives/number_289.html.

Schedule P-1.2 is available at http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=295.

Easy-to-Use Web Tables

In early 2009, BTS simplified its website, http://www.bts.gov, for retrieving frequently requested airline data. Users can now go to eight airline reports with a single click. Users can download each report with historical data going back to, at least, the year 2000. The eight reports are:

  1. passengers,
  2. flights,
  3. revenue passenger-miles,
  4. available seat-miles,
  5. load factor,
  6. operating profit/loss,
  7. operating revenue, and
  8. freight.

The first five tables offer numbers for U.S. and international airlines serving the United States. The user can choose from monthly and yearly totals for all airlines, U.S. airlines, and individual airlines. BTS also provides the date by origin airport.

The last three tables offer data for U.S. airlines only with no airport-specific numbers.

Full-Time and Part-Time Employment Data

BTS made available for the first time in 2009 full-time and part-time airline employment data since 1990. On the BTS website, the numbers are available on a new employment application, http://www.bts.gov/airline_employment/src/index.xml, that allows the user to search for employment numbers for any month since January 1990. Previously, the BTS website provided only year-end tables in Excel format.

Airlines that operate at least one aircraft with the capacity to carry combined passengers, cargo and fuel of 18,000 pounds - the payload factor - must report monthly full-time and part-time employment statistics to BTS.

Maritime Data

In October 2008, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) launched MarView, http://www.marview.gov/, a web-based Marine Transportation System (MTS) information system. MARAD grants access to MarView through a free subscription. MarView provides access to more than 2,500 links to MTS-related data sources, including information and statistics on Intermodal freight transportation, trained and licensed mariners, ports and a terminals, waterborne cargo and passenger movements, and domestic and foreign shipᆳbuilding and shipyards. In addition, MarView provides real-time vessel tracking via Automated Identification System and Voluntary Observation Ships.

The interagency Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS) continues to maintain the MTS Data Inventory, http://marapps.dot.gov/mts/, which currently contains about 150 links to marine transportation-related data and information that Federal agencies either produce or use. In December 2008, the CMTS/Communications Team published a MTS Fact Sheet, http://www. cmts.gov/, that highlights select information on the MTS. In addition, the circular provides a comprehensive list of cited references for the reader's convenience.

In June 2009, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics published America's Container Ports: Transporting Goods from Here to There, which complimented a previous edition of the report published in March 2007. The latest report updates the trends since 1995 in container volumes handled by the Nation's seaports. More specifically, it compares maritime container volumes to truck and rail as well as discusses the impact of the recent U.S. and global economic downturn on U.S. container traffic, shifts in the vessel strings, vessel calls and port capacity, and the rankings of U.S. ports among the world's top ports. In addition, the report provides brief snapshots on landside access at U.S. container ports, port security initiatives, and maritime-related environmental issues.

National Census of Ferry Operators

In accordance with Section 1801(e) of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), BTS established and will maintain a national ferry database containing information on ferry routes, vessels, passengers and vehicles carried, funding sources, and other operational details.

The National Census of Ferry Operators (NCFO) database is available via the Internet at http://www.bts.gov. The NCFO database is a collection of summary tables that provide operational ferry data from a nationwide census of ferry operators conducted in 2000, 2006, and 2008. BTS collects numerous detailed data elements describing the services that ferry operators provide as part of this effort. The NCFO database also contains data from other sources of ferry data such as the U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers. The NCFO utilizes a relational database throughout the data collection and processing that provides for the reporting of the information at various levels, such as by operator, route segment, terminal, or vessel.

The database of existing ferry operations includes the United States and its possessions, encompassing the 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. In addition to ferry operators providing domestic service within the United States and among its possessions, foreign operators providing international services to or from at least one U.S. terminal are also included.

Certain data were collected in the 2008 NCFO that were not collected in previous years. This includes information on whether specific ferry vessels are in service; carry passengers, freight, or both; which vessel normally sails a trip segment; and how many trips the vessel makes in 1 day. In addition, the 2008 NCFO asked operators to select the proximity to other transit modes and to provide information on other businesses operating at their terminals. This additional information will enhance the ability to perform multiple imputation of missing passenger-boarding data and will provide more detail on interconnectivity with other transit modes. In 2010, BTS plans to release a summary report based on the 2008 survey on its website. A summary report of the 2006 survey findings is available at http://www.bts.gov/publications/bts_special_report/.

BTS will conduct the next the NCFO in 2010. BTS is working with the Maritime Security Program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to include questions on security screening procedures used by terminal and ferry operators.

Intermodal Passenger Connectivity Database

The Intermodal Passenger Connectivity Database (IPCD) offers data on the scheduled public transportation modes serving individual passenger transportation terminals in the United States. BTS developed this database to serve as a baseline measurement of the degree of connectivity in the U.S. passenger transportation system.Since the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Act (ISTEA) in 1991, all USDOT authorizing legislation has encouraged the development of Intermodal links. Therefore, establishment of a baseline measurement for passenger Intermodal connectivity will provide one way to measure U.S. progress.

BTS is compiling the data in phases, by mode, for the IPCD. Through 2009, the database includes information on 1,494 passenger terminals - 527 intercity rail stations, 671 scheduled service airline airports, and 296 ferry terminals. Data collection is underway for approximately 1,100-commuter rail stations, which will be the next mode added to the database during 2010.1 Data for heavy rail (subway), light rail (streetcar), and intercity bus stations will complete the database in future years.

BTS has been collecting the data on modes serving each terminal from numerous public sources including databases at the USDOT, published brochures and timetables from carriers and transit agencies, and information from a range of transportation websites. These databases are available via the Internet for downloading as spreadsheets at http://www.transtats.bts.gov/. BTS has issued Special Reports using this data examining the degree of connectivity at intercity rail stations, airports, and ferry terminals available at http://www.bts.gov/publications/bts_special_report/.

The Passenger Intermodal Connectivity Database includes the following categories of data for each terminal record:

  • terminal name, address, zip code, and metropolitan area status;
  • latitude and longitude;
  • number of modes serving;
  • status of service for ferry (intercity and transit), bus (intercity, transit, code share/supplemental), rail (intercity, commuter, heavy rail, and light rail), and air modes;
  • terminal website; and
  • data sources.

Distracted Driving

The U.S. Department of Transportation sponsored a 2-day Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, DC, where Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood challenged the more than 250 attendees to help end this unsafe practice. The summit highlighted the growing dangers of distractions behind the wheel. Distracted, or inattentive, drivers caused an estimated 6,000 fatalities and more than half a million injures in 2008.

The summit addressed distracted driving for all surface modes of transportation, including rail, transit, commercial trucks, and passenger vehicles. More specifically, the discussions covered the extent and impact of distracted driving, current research, regulations, and best practices. In response to the summit, President Obama signed Executive Order 13513 Federal Leadership on Reducing Text Messaging While Driving.

For additional information on distracted driving, please visit http://www.distraction.gov/, which is a newly launched Internet web site by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

National Household Travel Survey

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Office of Highway Policy and Information, conducted the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) in 20082009. It is the foremost official national source of information on travel by the American public. Since 1969, the NHTS has provided data on travel demand and travel behavior by all modes, purposes, distances, travel times, occupancy and a host of other travel data. In addition to estimates of demand, NHTS provides an important contribution to understanding transportation issues of congestion, safety, highway finance, economic impacts, air quality, and fuel use. The study also contributes to the understanding of social travel trends that affect measurements for transportation modeling, policy, and program evaluation. The 2008 NHTS includes additional information on the flexibility of work schedules, telecommuting, home deliveries from Internet shopping, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, commercial licensed vehicles, interstate and toll use, disabilities affecting mobility, and schoolchildren travel. With 40 years of data, the NHTS adds a wealth of information to help understand the complex nature of travel behavior.

The NHTS is the largest travel survey in the world. The study encompasses a national and add-on sample, which combined yields data from 150,000 households. The national component covers all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. It employs a dual frame sample design that includes both landline and cellular phones. The frames generate 25,000 households for landline and 1,250 for cell-only households. The second component - the NHTS Add-On Program - represents a collection of state and metropolitan supplemental samples. Twenty areas are participating in the 2008 Add-On Program, resulting in local level travel data for an additional 125,000 households.

The combined sample of over 150,000 households will integrate and optimize the national with the add-on sample

Below is a list of the twenty NHTS add-on program participants:

  1. California DOT
  2. Cedar Rapids Regional, IA
  3. Chittenden County, VT
  4. Florida DOT
  5. Georgia DOT
  6. Indiana DOT
  7. Iowa DOT
  8. New York State DOT
  9. North Carolina DOT
  10. Omaha, NE
  11. Phoenix, AZ
  12. Piedmont Regional, NC
  13. South Carolina DOT
  14. South Dakota DOT
  15. Tennessee DOT
  16. Texas DOT
  17. Tucson, AZ
  18. Vermont DOT
  19. Virginia DOT
  20. Wisconsin DOT

The NHTS launched its data collection efforts in March of 2008. In April 2009, the data collection for a full year was completed. The NHTS provides a full year of travel data to allow for day of week and month of year analyses of travel demand. The data are now available at http://www.bts.gov/programs/national_household_travel_survey/.

Geospatial Information

The RITA/BTS Geospatial Information Program is the lead program for geospatial activities within the USDOT. To emphasize this geospatial role, the USDOT appointed the BTS Program Manager as the first Geospatial Information Officer. The Program is the USDOT lead for National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). NSDI activities include representing USDOT in the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and OMB e-Gov initiatives, such as the Geospatial Line of Business, as well as leading the development of transportation data content standards for the Geospatial One-stop.

The Geospatial Information Program has worked with USDOT partners to fill geospatial data gaps. Over the past 5 years, the Program and its partners have developed geospatial data for fixed guideway transit lines and stations, multi-modal transfer facilities, Metropolitan Planning Organization boundaries, Environmental Protection Agency non-attainment area boundaries, road bridges from the National Bridge Inventory, highway weigh-in-motion stations, highway automated traffic recorder stations, highway hazardous materials routes, ferry routes, and alternative fueling stations. In the future, the BTS Program will collaborate with the Federal Railroad Administration to develop a geospatial database of rail bridges.

The Geospatial Information Program annually produces the National Transportation Atlas Databases (NTAD). NTAD is a set of nationwide geospatial databases of transportation facilities, transportation networks, and associated infrastructure. These datasets include geospatial information for transportation modal networks and intermodal terminals, as well as the related attribute information for these features. Each database, as prescribed by the FGDC, provides metadata documentation. These data support research, analysis, and decision-making across all modes of transportation. They are most useful at the national level, but have major applications at regional, state, and local levels throughout the transportation community. USDOT partners and other Federal government agencies provide the data used to compile NTAD. Congress originally mandated the Geospatial Information Program to produce NTAD in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. The mandate has continued in each subsequent transportation authorization.

The Geospatial Information Program develops GIS applications to assist transportation analysts in performing complex geospatial analyses. For example, the GeoMiler application helps estimate freight travel by computing mileages along likely routes for the nearly 5 million freight shipments in the 2007 Commodity Flow Survey (CFS), the nation's largest survey of freight movement. The CFS uses these computations in estimating modal ton-miles of freight - a key measure for understanding the use and performance of our nation's freight transportation system. The Geospatial Information Program developed GeoMiler using current GIS technology to assign routes and calculate mileage from the origin to the destination of each shipment reported in the CFS, even when more than one mode is used. While developed for use in processing the CFS, multimodal freight movement at all geographic levels may use the tool's integrated core GIS technology and its modeling approach.

Transportation Services Index

The publication of the Transportation Services Index (TSI) in March 2004 marked the entry of the RITA/BTS into the company of Federal statistical agencies that produce a monthly U.S. economic indicator. The index consists of two measures:

  • Freight transportation service, and
  • Passenger transportation service

Inaddition, BTS creates a Total TSI by combining the Freight and Passenger transportation indexes. The most recent TSI data are available at http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

Currently, the Freight index consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and airfreight. The Passenger index consists of data from air, local transit and intercity rail. In addition, as part of ongoing research, BTS is exploring other modal data series to incorporate into the TSI. BTS used economic and statistical techniques to present the output of the different transportation modes in comparable terms, while adjusting to correct for the seasonal nature of transportation. Using 2000 as a base year with an index value of 100, the Total TSI has ranged from a value of 66 at the beginning of 1990 to approximately 103 at the end of 2008, reflecting an increase of nearly 55 percent over 18 years.

BTS has undertaken research on when the Freight TSI recently turned downward, thereby serving as a leading indicator for the current recession. The recent turning point for the Freight TSI was May 2006, approximately 1 years prior to the stated start of the recession in December 2007. In past research, the Freight TSI led by an average of 4 to 5 months, with a range of 1 to 7 months. Possible explanations for the long lead with the current recession include the rising cost of fuel that occurred in 2005 and 2006, and unique aspects of the current recession, such as its magnitude and the housing and financial crisis that preceded it.

In an effort to incorporate changes in methodology and data source revisions BTS had performed and released the 2009 TSI Comprehensive Bi-Annual Revision along with the July TSI release. A detailed analysis and methodology changes are available at http://www.bts.gov/xml/tsi/src/index.xml.

National Transportation Library

The National Transportation Library (NTL) plays a central role in the collection and dissemination of transportation information. Our clients include government staff at all levels (Federal, State and local), transportation professionals, and the public. NTL's mandate includes improving the ability of the transportation community to share information and knowledge and working as a national leader and partner to improve the coordination of information collection and archiving efforts.

To facilitate access to information by USDOT stakeholders, NTL provides assistance and training in locating and using transportation information and tools. Notably, NTL plays a key role in USDOT's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) efforts, serving as the single point of contact and communication with the public on the Department's ARRA efforts. In addition, the NTL reference staff responds to more than 2,500 information requests a month, assisting the USDOT staff and the public in locating documents and reports, statistics and other data, and performing detailed topic based research in response to specific reference requests. NTL staff is available via email, telephone, and in person at our Headquarters Branch.

To facilitate access to information through collections and tools, NTL cooperates with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to provide the Transportation Research Information System (TRIS Online), one of the field's foremost research tools. TRB creates and maintains TRIS Online, which has the broadest coverage of transportation resources of any analytical index in the world, and NTL gives researchers and the public with free desktop access to the over 680,000 information and research resources. NTL's Digital Repository collects and makes available thousands of transportation reports, including 30,000 full text documents. Key recent acquisitions including Eno Transportation Foundation reports published beginning in 1909, the entire collection of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) technical reports, and the entire contents of the ITS Joint Program Office's Electronic Digital Library (EDL). Additionally, NTL joined science.gov in 2009, a joint project of 17 Federal agencies providing access to Federal scientific and technical information. Through this forum, NTL makes transportation research and information available to an even broader audience searching for government scientific information.

Through partnerships, NTL coordinates efforts to develop standards for the collection and exchange of transportation information, as well as platforms for knowledge sharing. Originally developed by TRB, NTL maintains the Transportation Research Thesaurus, the international standard transportation taxonomy and controlled vocabulary for transportation. This tool enables efficient and robust search, retrieval, and access to TRIS Online, and other transportation information resources. Through partnership with the Federal and State DOT libraries, university transportation libraries, and the largest holder of library catalog records, the Online Computer Library Consortium (OCLC), the NTL has made available to the public the Transportation Librarians Catalog (TLCat), a one-stop portal to the catalogs of the Nation's most significant transportation libraries. The NTL leads the coordinated efforts of the regional transportation knowledge networks. Further, it has also coordinated and supported the development of two new transportation library networks. Additionally, in cooperation with other national transportation and library organizations, NTL hosts the Transportation Librarians Roundtable, a monthly forum for transportation librarians to discuss and exchange best practices on issues of mutual interest.

International Data Exchanges

The North American Transportation Statistics Online Database (NATS-OD) is an international data exchange effort between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. A product of the NATS Interchange established in 1991, the NATS database provides three-country comparative information on transportation activity and its impact. It covers the following subject areas: country overview, transportation and the economy, transportation safety, transportation's impact on energy and the environment, domestic freight activity, North American merchandise trade, international merchandise trade, domestic passenger travel, North American passenger travel, international passenger travel, transportation infrastructure, and vehicles.

The NATS-OD highlights the importance of the various modes of transportation involved in the movement of goods between Canada, Mexico and the U.S., and presents statistics indicating the relationships among transportation, international trade, economy, security, energy and the environment. The NATS database is available at http://nats.sct.gob.mx. North America is balancing security, safety, and environmental concerns while simultaneously facilitating the free flow of people and goods. The transportation data disseminated through the Interchange is a significant resource for both the public and decision-makers to draw upon in achieving this balance.

The XXIII North American Transportation Statistics Interchange was held from June 22-24, 2009. Co-sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and the Transportation Research Board, the NATS Interchange was held at the National Academy of Sciences' Keck Center in Washington, DC. One of the key focus areas of this year's Interchange was further developing the transportation energy and environment indicators of the NATS-OD.

Transportation Research Board

In 2009, RITA/BTS continued to support the diverse research of the National Academy of Sciences' Transportation Research Board (TRB). The TRB is the division of the National Research Council that promotes innovation and progress in transportation through research.

RITA/BTS staff participated in the TRB's 88th Annual Meeting, whose theme was Transportation, Energy, and Climate Change, as well as TRB workshops on such topics as Air Quality and Goods Movement and North American Freight Flows and TRB's mid-year meeting held each summer. With over 200 standing committees, TRB offers RITA/BTS the opportunity share knowledge and perspectives in transportation research, policy and practice with other transportation professionals.

Administered through the TRB and sponsored by RITA, the National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) conducts applied freight transportation research. BTS and RITA staff supports the NCFRP by contributing to the oversight committee and assisting in choosing research projects for funding. They acted as liaisons to project panels that develops the Statements of Work, drafted and issued a Request for Proposal for funded projects, selected the contractor and provided guidance to the to the contractor during the course of the research project. NCFRP selected forty projects for funding by the end of 2009.

During 2009, RITA/BTS staff also participated in the TRB administrated cooperative research programs, including the Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program (HMCRP) and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). They supported the HMCRP oversight committee and project panels in the same manner as the NCFRP by RITA/BTS staff, while contributions to the NCHRP involved participation in project panels.

1 In some locations, commuter rail systems use the same right-of-way and stations as the intercity rail system (Amtrak and the Alaska Railroad). As a result, some stations served by commuter rail are already included in the database since intercity rail serves them.