Introduction

The Transportation Statistics Annual Report describes the Nation's transportation system, the system's performance, its contributions to the economy, and its effects on the environment. This 17th edition of the report, covering 2011 and 2012, is based on information collected or compiled by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a Federal statistical agency in the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).

Over 4 million miles of roads, nearly 139,000 miles of railroads, over 25,000 miles of navigable waterways, over 2 million miles of pipelines, and more than 5,000 public use airports connect the Nation's people and businesses across a continent and with the rest of the world.

The estimated value of U.S. transportation assets in 2010 was over $7 trillion. The public owns one-half of the total transportation asset value, mostly highways and streets, but also publicly held airports, waterways, and transit facilities. Private companies own 31.6 percent of transportation assets, including railroads, pipelines, trucks, planes, and ships. Consumerowned motor vehicles account for the remaining 18.1 percent.

The average person travels more than 13,000 miles per year, and domestic businesses ship and receive 57 tons of freight per year for every man, woman, and child in the United States. Transportation accounts for:

  • over $1 trillion in purchases and investments,
  • $134 billion of public expenditures on operations and maintenance,
  • 11 million jobs in transportation-related industries,
  • more than $8,000 average expenditures for each household,
  • nearly 35,000 lives lost and over 2.2 Introduction million nonfatal injuries each year,
  • 70.2 percent of total petroleum consumption in the United States, and
  • over 1.7 billion annual metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

BTS compiles these and other statistics under Section 52011: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (Public Law No. 112-141), which requires information on:

  1. transportation safety across all modes and intermodally;
  2. the state of good repair of United States transportation infrastructure;
  3. the extent, connectivity, and condition of the transportation system, building on the national transportation atlas database developed;
  4. economic efficiency across the entire transportation sector;
  5. the effects of the transportation system on global and domestic economic competitiveness;
  6. demographic, economic, and other variables influencing travel behavior, including choice of transportation mode and goods movement;
  7. transportation-related variables that influence the domestic economy and global competitiveness;
  8. economic costs and impacts for passenger travel and freight movement;
  9. intermodal and multimodal passenger movement;
  10. intermodal and multimodal freight movement; and
  11. consequences of transportation for the human and natural environment.

This report of the BTS Director to the President and the Congress summarizes the Bureau's findings through 2012. Chapter 1 describes the extent and condition of transportation infrastructure, passenger travel, and freight movement. Chapters 2 and 3 highlight recent trends in passenger travel and freight movement. Chapter 4 covers the role of transportation in the economy. Chapter 5 discusses performance of the system from the perspectives of congestion, safety, energy use, and the environment. Chapter 6 concludes this report with an assessment of the data programs that support understanding of the transportation system and its consequences.