Commercial Freight Activity

Commercial Freight Activity

The nation's freight transportation system, all modes combined, carried 15.8 billion tons of raw materials and finished goods in 2002, up 18 percent from 13.4 billion tons in 1993 (figure 1-11).1 The 2002 freight activity also represented 4,506 billion ton-miles at a value of $10,460 billion (in chained 2000 dollars2). Ton-miles have grown 24 percent since 1993, while value rose 45 percent (figure 1-12 and figure 1-13).

Trucking moved the majority of freight by tonnage and by shipment value in 2002: 9.2 billon tons (58 percent of the total tonnage) and $6,660 billion (64 percent of the total value). Multimodal shipments-a combination of more than one mode-were second by value at 11 percent ($1,111 billion), while waterborne carried 15 percent by weight (2.3 billion tons). Trucking and rail were responsible for 32 and 28 percent, respectively, of the total ton-miles.

These total commercial freight data were calculated by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, using data from the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) conducted in 1993, 1997, and 2002 and estimates of activity not covered by CFS (box 1-C). While these total estimates provide the most complete commercial freight picture for all modes of transportation, they exclude most shipments by the retail sector and governments (e.g., goods for defense operations and the collection of municipal solid waste). The estimate also excludes shipments by nongoods-producing sectors (e.g., services, construction, household goods movers, and transportation service providers).

1 All 2002 total commercial freight data here and in the accompanying figures and tables are preliminary. Although final 2002 Commodity Flow Survey data were available at the time this report was prepared, final 2002 supplemental estimates were still forthcoming.

2 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 2000 dollars, unless otherwise specified. Current dollar amounts were adjusted to eliminate the effects of inflation over time.