You are here

February 2017 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Press Release Number: 
BTS 18-17
Date: 
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

PDF | Excel

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 1.5 percent in February from January, rising after remaining unchanged in January from December, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The February 2017 index level (126.4) was 33.5 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

Freight Transportation Services Index, February 2012 - February 2017
(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

 

Table Version | Excel

Freight Transportation Services Index, February 2012 - February 2017

The level of for-hire freight shipments in February measured by the Freight TSI (126.4) reached its all-time high (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The December and January indexes were both revised to 124.5 from 123.2 in last month’s release.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight. The TSI is seasonally-adjusted to remove regular seasons from month-to-month comparisons.

Analysis: The February increase in the Freight TSI was broad based, with growth in all freight transportation modes except pipeline. The increase took place against a background of upward signals in other economic indicators. Employment, Housing Starts, and Personal Income all grew in February, and the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers’ Index showed positive and accelerating growth. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index was unchanged, with growth in manufacturing and mining offset by decline in utility output.

Trend: The Freight TSI reached an all-time high in February, exceeding its previous high, in July 2016, by 1.0 percent. After a period of 32 months beginning in April 2014 and continuing to November 2016 when the index, with only two exceptions, fluctuated between 119.7 and 123.5, the Freight TSI has now reached or exceeded 124.5 for three months in succession. The February increase represented the fifth month in succession when Freight TSI increased or was stable, for an overall increase of 4.5 percent, following two months of decline (a decrease of 3.3 percent). These changes immediately followed a similar pattern, of four months of growth (an overall increase 4.9 percent) following two months of decline (2.6 percent). During the 13-months from January 2016 to February 2017, freight shipments rose 3.3 percent. The February index was 33.5 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: For-hire freight shipments in February 2017 (126.4) were 33.5 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.7). The February 2017 level reached its all-time high (Table 1A).

Year to date: For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 1.5 percent in February compared to the end of 2016 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: For-hire freight shipments are up 12.6 percent in the five years from February 2012 and are up 14.5 percent in the 10 years from February 2007 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: February 2017 for-hire freight shipments were up 4.0 percent from February 2016 (Tables 4, 5).

The TSI has three seasonally-adjusted indexes that measure changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. The three indexes are freight shipments, passenger travel and a combined measure that merges the freight and passenger indexes. See Seasonally-Adjusted Transportation Data for numbers for individual modes. TSI includes data from 2000 to the present. Release of the March 2017 index is scheduled for May 10.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers fell 0.3 percent in February from its January level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI February 2017 level of 125.1 was 1.1 percent above the February 2016 level (Table 7). The index is up 7.0 percent in five years and up 10.1 percent in 10 years (Table 5). The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel that involves the services of the for-hire passenger transportation sector. The seasonally-adjusted index consists of data from air, local transit and intercity rail.

Combined Index: The combined freight and passenger TSI rose 0.9 percent in February from its January level (Table 8). The combined TSI February 2017 level of 126.0 was 3.0 percent above the February 2016 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 10.8 percent in five years and up 12.9 percent in 10 years (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: Monthly data has changed from previous releases due to the use of concurrent seasonal analysis, which results in seasonal analysis factors changing as each month’s data are added.    

BTS research has shown a clear relationship between economic cycles and the Freight and Passenger Transportation Services Indexes. See a study of this relationship using smoothed and detrended TSI data. Researchers who wish to compare TSI over time with other economic indicators, can use the FRED database, which includes freight, passenger  and combined TSI, and which makes it possible to easily graph TSI alongside the other series in that database. See TSI data on FRED.   

For a webinar on the TSI, see Past Webinars. For a video explanation of the TSI, see Overview of the Transportation Services Index. A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

 

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Since August 2016

Percent Change from Previous Month

(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

  Freight Passenger Combined
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change
August 122.5 -2.1 122.7 -1.5 122.6 -1.9
September 121.0 -1.2 124.9 1.8 122.3 -0.2
October 122.8 1.5 123.7 -1.0 123.1 0.7
November 123.5 0.6 124.5 0.6 123.9 0.6
December 124.5 0.8 124.9 0.3 124.7 0.6
January 124.5 0.0 125.5 0.5 124.9 0.2
February 126.4 1.5 125.1 -0.3 126.0 0.9

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 1A: Annual High and Low Points in Freight Transportation Services Index, 2009-2017

Year Month Peak Month Bottom
2009 June 101.5 April 94.7
2013 November 119.1 January 114.3
2014 November 123.4 July 116.0
2015 January 122.9 December 120.8
2016 July 125.1 March 119.2
2017 (thru February) February 126.4 January 124.5

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2014-2017

Percent change from previous month

  2014 % Change 2015 % Change 2016 % Change 2017 % Change
January -1.6 -0.3 1.3 0.0
February 1.6 -1.1 -0.7 1.5
March 1.0 0.5 -1.9  
April 0.8 -0.5 2.0  
May 0.7 0.7 0.2  
June -0.8 -0.4 0.6  
July 0.6 0.7 2.0  
August 0.6 0.2 -2.1  
September 0.3 -0.5 -1.2  
October 0.7 0.5 1.5  
November 0.9 -1.5 0.6  
December -0.1 -0.2 0.8  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2014-2017

  2014 2015 2016 2017
January 116.0 122.9 122.4 124.5
February 117.8 121.5 121.5 126.4
March 119.0 122.1 119.2  
April 119.9 121.5 121.6  
May 120.7 122.4 121.9  
June 119.7 121.9 122.6  
July 120.4 122.7 125.1  
August 121.1 122.9 122.5  
September 121.5 122.3 121.0  
October 122.3 122.9 122.8  
November 123.4 121.0 123.5  
December 123.3 120.8 124.5  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 3: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Year-to-Date Change, 2008-2017

Percent change to February from December of the previous year

Year Freight Passenger Combined
2008 0.5 1.6 0.9
2009 0.5 0.1 0.4
2010 3.5 -2.4 1.7
2011 0.6 -1.1 0.1
2012 -2.4 1.0 -1.4
2013 3.0 0.7 2.3
2014 -0.1 -0.4 -0.2
2015 -1.5 -2.2 -1.7
2016 0.6 -0.4 0.2
2017 1.5 0.2 1.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the February Freight TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  February Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2008 111.3 0.8
2009 100.9 -9.3
2010 105.1 4.2
2011 109.3 4.0
2012 112.3 2.7
2013 115.6 2.9
2014 117.8 1.9
2015 121.5 3.1
2016 121.5 0.0
2017 126.4 4.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Years

Percent Change to 2017 (February to February)

Since February . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to February 2017 Passenger TSI Percent change to February 2017 Combined TSI Percent change to February 2017
2016 1 4.0 1.1 3.0
2015 2 4.0 5.8 4.6
2014 3 7.3 6.6 7.1
2013 4 9.3 7.2 8.6
2012 5 12.6 7.0 10.8
2011 6 15.6 11.8 14.3
2010 7 20.3 16.0 18.9
2009 8 25.3 13.2 21.4
2008 9 13.6 5.8 10.9
2007 10 14.5 10.1 12.9

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2014-2017

Percent change from previous month

  2014 % Change 2015 % Change 2016 % Change 2017 % Change
January 0.0 -0.7 -0.7 0.5
February -0.4 -1.5 0.3 -0.3
March 2.1 2.5 -1.5  
April 0.0 0.3 1.6  
May 0.5 0.2 0.2  
June -0.6 0.6 1.3  
July 0.2 2.0 -1.0  
August 0.3 -2.0 -1.5  
September -0.2 0.4 1.8  
October 0.4 1.5 -1.0  
November -0.6 -1.0 0.6  
December 0.8 0.6 0.3  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the February Passenger TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  February Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2008 118.2 4.0
2009 110.5 -6.5
2010 107.8 -2.4
2011 111.9 3.8
2012 116.9 4.5
2013 116.7 -0.2
2014 117.3 0.5
2015 118.2 0.8
2016 123.8 4.7
2017 125.1 1.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2014-2017

Percent change from previous month

  2014 % Change 2015 % Change 2016 % Change 2017 % Change
January -1.1 -0.4 0.7 0.2
February 0.9 -1.3 -0.4 0.9
March 1.4 1.2 -1.7  
April 0.6 -0.2 1.8  
May 0.6 0.6 0.2  
June -0.8 -0.1 0.8  
July 0.5 1.1 1.1  
August 0.5 -0.6 -1.9  
September 0.2 -0.2 -0.2  
October 0.6 0.7 0.7  
November 0.4 -1.4 0.6  
December 0.2 0.2 0.6  

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

 

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the February Combined TSI

(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

  February Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year
2008 113.6 1.8
2009 103.8 -8.6
2010 106.0 2.1
2011 110.2 4.0
2012 113.7 3.2
2013 116.0 2.0
2014 117.7 1.5
2015 120.5 2.4
2016 122.3 1.5
2017 126.0 3.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Brief Explanation of the TSI
           
The Transportation Services Index (TSI) is a measure of the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire transportation industries.  The freight index measure changes in freight shipments while the passenger index measures changes in passenger travel.

The TSI tells us how the output of transportation services has increased or decreased from month to month. The index can be examined together with other economic indicators to produce a better understanding of the current and future course of the economy.   The movement of the index over time can be compared with other economic measures to understand the relationship of changes in transportation output to changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

           
The freight transportation index consists of:
For-hire trucking,
Railroad freight services (including rail based intermodal shipments such as containers on flat cars),
Inland waterways transportation,
Pipeline transportation (including principally petroleum and petroleum products and natural gas), and
Air freight.

The index does not include international or coastal waterborne movements, private trucking, courier services, or the US Postal Service.

The passenger transportation index consists of:
Local transit,
Intercity passenger rail, and
Passenger air transportation.

The index does not include intercity bus, sightseeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized transportation.

The TSI includes only domestic "for-hire" freight and passenger transportation. For-hire transportation consists of freight or passenger transport services provided by a firm to external customers for a fee. The TSI does not include taxi services, paid ride services in personal motor vehicles (e.g., Uber, Lyft, etc.), intercity bus services, in-house transportation (vehicles owned and operated by private firms for their own use), or noncommercial passenger travel (e.g., trips in the household car).