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BTS releases February 2015 freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, fell 1.7 percent in February from January, falling after a minimal rise in January, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The February 2015 index level (120.4) was 27.3 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

The level of freight shipments in February measured by the Freight TSI (120.4) was 2.4 percent below the all-time high level of 123.3 in November 2014. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000.

The January index was revised to 122.6 from 122.9 in last month’s release. Numbers for September, November and December were also revised down.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in 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.

Analysis: A large decline in rail carloads, rail intermodal, coupled with smaller declines in trucking and water resulted in the decline in the overall freight index in February, despite an increase in pipeline. Unusual winter weather played a role in much of this decline in transportation related economic activity. Transportation may also have been impacted by labor issues at West Coast ports.

Trend: The Freight TSI declined in February, the second decline in three months, following three months of growth. It was down 2.4 percent from its all-time high in November. The February index was lower than at any time since June 2014. After dipping to 94.6 in April 2009, the index rose 27.3 percent in the succeeding 70 months.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in February 2015 (120.4) were 27.3 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.6). The February 2015 level was 2.4 percent below the historic peak reached in November 2014 (123.3).

Year to date: Freight shipments measured by the index were down 1.7 percent in February compared to the end of 2014

See Freight TSI Press Release for summary tables and additional data. See Transportation Services Index for historical data and methodology.