Transportation Capital Stock

Transportation Capital Stock

Highway-related capital stock (public highways and streets, consumer motor vehicles, and commercial truck transportation) represented the majority of the nation's transportation capital stock, $2,917 billion in 2003 (in chained 2000 dollars1). Public highways and streets constituted the majority (52 percent) of highway-related capital stock in 2003, as well as the largest portion (33 percent) of all transportation capital stock (figure 2-1). The combined value of capital stocks for other nonhighway-related modes of the transportation system, including rail, water, air, pipeline, and other publicly or privately owned transportation, is less than the value of consumer motor vehicles alone (figure 2-2).2

All transportation capital stocks, except for railroads, increased between 1993 and 2003. Highway-related capital stocks were not the fastest growing, however. The most rapid growth occurred in air transportation, which doubled over the period. In-house transportation, which can involve several modes, increased 84 percent. Consumer motor vehicles grew 64 percent; truck transportation, 52 percent; private ground passenger transportation, 38 percent; pipeline transportation, 32 percent; and water transportation, 22 percent [1].

Public highways and streets grew 21 percent, and other publicly owned transportation, which includes publicly owned airway, waterway, and transit structures, grew 25 percent over the period for which data were available. Other privately owned transportation, which includes sightseeing, couriers and messengers, and transportation support activities, grew by 4 percent from 1993 to 2003, while railroad transportation declined by 6 percent over the period.

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). The Bureau of Transportation Statistics has been developing data on airports, waterways, and transit systems that will enhance the available data on publicly owned capital stock.


1. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Fixed Assets and Consumer Durable Goods in the United States, tables 3.1ES, 3.2ES, 7.1, 7.2, 8.1, and 8.2, available at, as of May 2005.

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.

2 Because the Bureau of Economic Analysis has recategorized capital stock data, the time-series data in this report differ from the capital stock data in previous editions of the Transportation Statistics Annual Report.