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, $2,432 billion in 2001 (in chained 2000 dollars1). Highway infrastructure constituted the largest portion (60 percent) of highway-related capital stock in 2001, as well as the largest portion (39 percent) of all transportation capital stock (figure 11-1). The combined value of capital stocks for other individual modes of the transportation system, including rail, water, air, pipeline, and transit, is less than the value of consumer motor vehicles alone (figure 11-2).

All transportation capital stocks, except those of rail and water, increased between 1991 and 2001. Highway-related capital stocks were not the fastest growing, however. The most rapid growth occurred in transportation services, a component of all modes, at 94 percent, and air transportation at 68 percent. Trucking and warehousing grew 51 percent; consumer motor vehicles, 35 percent; and highway infrastructure, 21 percent. In-house transportation, another multimodal component, increased 42 percent. During the period, rail and water transportation capital stock decreased 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

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 Transportation 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, Fixed Assets and Consumer Durable Goods in the United States, tables 3.1ES, 7.1, and 8.1, available at, as of February 2004.

2. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Producer Price Indexes, All Urban Consumers, various series, available at, as of February 2004.

1 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 2000 dollars, unless otherwise specified. Current dollar amounts (available in appendix B of this report) were adjusted to eliminate the effects of inflation over time.