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BTS releases August 2015 North American freight numbers

The value of U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $92.4 billion in August 2015 as all modes of transportation carried less value of freight than a year earlier, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by theU.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by all modes decreased by 8.1 percent. Large decreases in the value of commodities moved by pipeline and vessel in August were due to the reduced unit price of mineral fuel.

Freight by Mode
In August 2015 compared to August 2014, the value of commodities moving by truck decreased by 1.8 percent, while rail decreased by 8.4 percent and air by 10.3 percent. Vessel freight values decreased 33.5 percent and pipeline freight decreased 33.6 percent mainly due to the lower unit price of mineral fuel.

Average monthly fuel prices are available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A decline in the value of freight shipments does not necessarily mean there was a lower volume of freight transported.

Trucks carried 63.6 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and are the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $29.7 billion of the $49.8 billion of imports (59.6 percent) and $29.1 billion of the $42.7 billion of exports (68.3 percent).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.5 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 6.6 percent; pipeline, 5.4 percent; and air, 3.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.5 percent of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

U.S.-Canada Freight
The value of U.S.-Canada freight totaled $48.0 billion in August 2015, down 13.6 percent from August 2014, as all modes of transportation carried less value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier.

Lower mineral fuel prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease in the value of freight moved between the U.S. and Canada. Mineral fuels are a large share of freight carried by pipeline and vessel, which were down 35.1 percent and 40.2 percent respectively year-over-year.

Trucks carried 58.1 percent of the $48.0 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 15.8 percent; pipeline, 9.6 percent; vessel, 4.9 percent; and air, 4.3 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.5 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

U.S.-Mexico Freight
The value of U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $44.5 billion in August 2015, down 1.4 percent from August 2014, as two out of five transportation modes – rail and truck – carried more U.S.-Mexico freight than in August 2014. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Mexico rail freight rose 3.2 percent, the largest percentage increase of any mode. Freight carried by truck increased by 1.5 percent. Air freight was down 3.0 percent and pipeline freight declined 4.0 percent. Vessel freight decreased by 28.6 percent mainly due to lower mineral fuel prices.

Trucks carried 69.6 percent of the $44.5 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 15.1 percent; vessel, 8.5 percent; air, 2.8 percent; and pipeline, 0.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.5 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

See BTS Transborder Data Release for summary tables and additional data. See North American Transborder Freight Data  on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004.   
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