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North AmericanTransportation Statistics Interchange

North American Transportation Statistics Interchange

The Interchange is a forum established in 1991 for the exchange of information and the initiation of collaborative activities amongst the transportation and statistical federal agencies in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Its mission is to raise the general awareness and improve the quality, relevance, and comparability of transportation data and information in North America. The overarching goal of the Interchange is to promote and develop high quality, relevant, comparable data, and analysis that provide information necessary for an efficient and fully integrated transportation system for North America.

One of the key results of the Interchange was the trilateral development and release of the North American Transportation in Figures report in 2000. Canada, Mexico, and the United States have updated this information as inputs to the North American Transporation Statistics Database that supplies public access to relevant, timely and comparable transportation indicators for North America released in September of 2004. The lead agencies for the Interchange are the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Department of Transportations (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Ministry of Communications and Transport (MX), Mexican Institute of Transportation, National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics (MX), Statistics Canada, and Transport Canada.

Currently, the Interchange conference locations rotate between the three countries every three years. Every year there is a different level of emphasis and focus to the plenary session. This year, the four main topics were freight, economics, aviation and security. In addition, there was an overall theme of strategic planning as the lead agencies and representatives engaged in a strategic planning process during the past year to align the activities of the Interchange with their domestic missions and activities in each of the three countries.

There are four working groups as part of the Interchange:

  • North American Transportation Statistics working group - developing a core set of comparable and timely transportation performance measures for North America and the inclusion of these in an online database developed by Mexico.
  • Maritime and Trade working group - vessel and port classification issues and consistency in these for North America, customs issues, trade data reconciliation and support of maritime data needed for the online database.
  • Environment and Energy working group - developing a comparable set of indicators in environment and energy as they relate to transportation across North America and the exchange of best practice and program updates.
  • Surface Transportation working group - freight surveys and collection approaches in North America and the expansion of these across all three countries, measurement of border delays and efficiencies, hazmat freight issues, North American geospatial data, and North American passenger travel data.

BTS is the lead U.S. DOT agency for North American transportation and statistics data coordination and partners at the U.S. federal level with the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. BTS is the only agency within the U.S. DOT that addresses transportation data on a trilateral basis filling data gaps associated with North American trade and travel. The Interchange and its related activities provide major contributions to BTS products and other U.S. DOT projects.