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  • US Airlines employed 700,142 workers in January 2018 1.9 percent more than in January 2017. 
  • BTS’ for-hire freight shipment index (TSI) stood at its second highest all-time level in January 2018 although it was down 0.4 percent from the all-time high in December. 
  • BTS’ for-hire freight shipment index (TSI) in January 2018 was 6.3 percent higher than in January 2017. 
  • A record 965 million passengers flew in the US and to/from the US in 2017 on US and foreign airlines. 
  • A record 223 million passengers flew to and from the U.S in 2017 - 108 million on US airlines and 116 million on foreign airlines. 
  • Southwest Airlines carried more total system passengers in 2017 than any other US airline - 158 million – followed by Delta Airlines and American Airlines. 
  • American Airlines carried more passengers on international flights to and from the US in 2017 than any other US or foreign carrier – 28 million – followed by United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. 
  • British Airways carried the most passengers on flights to and from the US of any foreign airline – 7 million – followed by Lufthansa and WestJet. 
  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson was the top US airport for total system passenger boardings in 2017 – 50 million – followed by Los Angeles International and Chicago O’Hare.
  • New York John F. Kennedy was the top US airport for international passenger boardings in 2017 – 16 million – followed by Los Angeles International and Miami.
  • 849 million passengers flew on US airlines in 2017, an all-time high – 742 million domestic and 108 million international. 
  • 72.3 million passengers on US airlines’ in December was a new all-time seasonally-adjusted high. 
  • Drivers on US roads and highways drove a record 269 billion miles in November 2017 and again in December, seasonally-adjusted.
  • US passenger airlines’ workforce in January 2018 reached its highest level since December 2004 – 431,308 workers, up 3.2pct in one year. 
  • The three US airlines with the most full-time equivalent employees in January – American, United and Delta – employed 61 percent of the month’s total passenger airline workforce. 
  • Low-cost airlines – those with a low-cost business model – grew their workforce by almost 3 percent in one year and 27 percent in four years.
  • American Airlines employed the most workers of any US airline in January 2018 - 100,832.
  • 79.6pct of January 2018 flights arrived on-time, above January average of 75.2.
  • January 2018 flight cancellation rate – 3.0pct – below January average of 3.2.
  • 44 long tarmac times in January 2018, 36 due to early January “bomb cyclone” in NYC. 
  • Airlines with the highest on-time arrival percent in Jan 2018 – Alaska, 88.9; Hawaiian, 88.3; United, 84.7.
  • Airlines with the lowest on-time arrival percent in Jan 2018 – JetBlue, 65.8; PSA, 70.2; ExpressJet, 74.6.
  • Airports with the highest on-time arrival percent in Jan 2018 – Honolulu, 89.6; Salt Lake City, 88.2; Portland, OR, 88.0. Airport Rankings
  • Airports with the lowest on-time arrival percent in Jan 2018 – Newark, 68.5; New York LaGuardia, 68.9; Boston Logan, 69.8. Airport Rankings
  • Trucks carried $61B of North American #freight in January 2018, up 10.2pct from January 2017. Statistical release
  • Laredo was the top truck port on the southern border in January 2018. Detroit was the top truck port on the northern border. Statistical release
  • Rail carried $13.3B of North American #freight in January 2018, up 0.6pct from January 2017. Statistical release

Transportation Statistics Annual Report 2017 Highlights

Chapter 1 Extent and Physical Condition of the U.S. Transportation System

  • The Nation’s transportation assets were valued at about $7.7 trillion in 2016, a 20.6 percent increase over 2010 estimates. Publicly owned infrastructure and equipment continued to account for over one-half of transportation capital stock.
  • Highway travel as measured by person-miles traveled (PMT) and vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) increased by 5.4 and 4.3 percent, respectively, from 2010 to 2015.
  • The condition of the U.S. transportation infrastructure is improving, but additional work is needed. The percentage of structurally deficient bridges declined from 12.0 percent in 2010 to 9.1 percent in 2016.
  • One impact of bridge deterioration is reduced load limits. In 2016, 11.3 percent of all bridges had reduced load limits, which can cause commercial vehicle operators to carry smaller loads or take circuitous routes, increasing costs.
  • The average age of the highway light-duty vehicle fleet increased by 29 percent over the 2000 to 2015 period and stood at about 11.5 years in 2015. The average age of commercial trucks was 14.8 years in 2015, up from 12.5 years in 2007.
  • Buses accounted for about half of the 136,000 U.S. transit vehicles in 2015 and among transit vehicles had the lowest average age (7.4 years).
  • The average age of inland waterway navigation locks, adjusted for the date of the most recent rehabilitation, is more than 50 years.
  • Most airport runways (commercial service, reliever, and select general aviation) are in good condition; only 2 percent are considered poor.
  • Class I freight railroad capital expenditures totaled $17.4 billion in 2015, almost triple the spending in 2000. Rail track defects have been trending downward since 2013.
  • There is a general lack of data on the condition of vehicle and traffic control systems, regardless of mode; parking infrastructure; the physical condition of most types of vehicles and privately owned infrastructure (e.g., railroad track); and most aspects of intermodal connections.

Chapter 2 Moving People

  • In 2015 Americans traveled more than in 2014. Cars and other personal vehicles remain the dominant choice for most trips.
  • All-time highs for air travel were reached in 2016, following record-setting years in 2014 and 2015. Total enplanements in 2016 were 928 million, compared to 835 million in 2007 and 768 million in the recession year of 2009.
  • International air travel passenger-miles surpassed domestic air travel passenger-miles for the fourth consecutive year in 2016.
  • 2016 was the first year that foreign carriers transported more passengers to and from the United States than did U.S. carriers.
  • There were 75.6 million international visitors to the United States in 2016, down from 77.5 million in 2015—the first annual decline since 2009.  Foreign visitors spent an estimated $244.7 billion in their 2016 visits, down about 2 percent from 2015.
  • Children walking and biking to school fell from nearly half of children in 1969 to just 13 percent in 2009 and has remained a small proportion despite modest recent growth.
  • Bike-share systems operate in more than 150 cities nationwide, with riders taking 28 million trips on the larger systems during 2016.
  • App-enhanced ride-hailing companies are capturing a growing share of the for-hire passenger transportation in many metropolitan markets. In the largest market, New York City, these services provided 80 million trips and carried 133 million passengers in 2016.
  • Transit use grew between 2000 and 2015, with total ridership growing 1.2 billion and transit’s share of commuters growing from 4.7 to 5.2 percent.
  • Rural residents have greater reliance than urban residents on automobiles with more than 95 percent having access to a vehicle.

Chapter 3 Moving Goods

  • In 2015 freight tonnage and value rose by 6.4 and 8.2 percent, respectively, over 2012 levels, fully rebounding from declines during the December 2007–June 2009 economic recession.
  • The U.S. freight transportation system moved nearly 18.0 billion tons of goods valued at more than $19.1 trillion in 2015. Expressed in per-capita terms, this means that about 56 tons of freight moved for every man, woman, and child in the United States—a 4 percent increase since 2012.
  • Trucks carry 60.0 percent of the weight and 60.7 percent of the value of all goods shipped in the United States, and is the predominate mode for shipments under 750 miles. Rail leads in tons and ton-miles for shipments of 750 to 2,000 miles, while modal combinations account for the largest share of the value of shipments moved 2,000 miles or more.
  • The value of total U.S.-international merchandise trade increased from more than $2.4 trillion in 2000 to approximately $3.3 trillion in 2016 (in 2009 dollars)—a 37.6 percent inflation-adjusted increase. U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico accounted for 29.3 percent (nearly $1.07 trillion) of the value of U.S.-international merchandise trade in 2016.
  • Trucks carried 26.8 percent of the tonnage and 65.5 percent of the value of U.S. merchandise trade with Canada and Mexico, while rail carried 18.2 percent of the tonnage and 15.5 percent of the value in 2016.
  • Nearly 500 freight transportation gateways, including airports, border crossings, and seaports, handle international cargo; while the latest available data show that in 2015 the top 25 gateways handled 64.8 percent of the value of total U.S.-international merchandise trade—$2.4 trillion in current dollars.
  • Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming are major producers of energy commodities—oil in Alaska and North Dakota and coal in Wyoming. Alaska and North Dakota had the highest ratios of domestic export to domestic import shipments by value, while Alaska and Wyoming accounted for the highest ratios by tonnage.

Chapter 4 Transportation System Performance

  • The average annual delay per commuter rose from 37 hours in 2000 to 42 hours in 2014, a 13.5 percent increase, and the combined hours of delay experienced by all communities across the Nation in 2014 reached 6.9 billion hours—about a third higher than the 2000 total.
  • Highway traffic congestion levels have increased over the past 30 years in all urban areas, from the largest to the smallest. Urban highway congestion cost the economy $160 billion in 2014, of which 17.5 percent, or $28 billion, was largely due to congestion that affected truck movements.
  • Nearly one million flights, arrived at the gate at least 15 minutes late in 2016, and of those flights nearly 116,000 flights arrived at least 2 hours behind schedule, impacting more than 9 million passengers.
  • Amtrak experienced a significant improvement in on-time performance in 2016, with four out of five trains arriving on schedule. On-time improvement was more prominent on long-distance routes.
  • Barge tows on the inland waterways experienced an average delay of 2.4 hours navigating a lock in 2016, the largest delay on record and more than double the delay in 2000. Scheduled maintenance and unexpected stoppages due to weather and operational issues resulted in almost 144,000 hours of lock shutdowns, almost 90 percent higher than the 2000 level.

Chapter 5 Transportation Economics

  • The demand for transportation grew 3.8 percent from 2014 to 2015, down from 4.2 percent from 2013 to 2014.
  • Freight transportation services, as measured by the freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), continue to lead the economy, including two economic accelerations following the recession—the first from June 2009 to December 2012 and the second from July 2013 to December 2014.
  • Of the transportation modes included in the freight TSI, rail intermodal grew the fastest from June 2009 (the end of the economic recession) to December 2016, rising 50.6 percent.
  • Employment in for-hire transportation and transportation-related industries rose steadily from 2011 to 2015, to 13.6 million, exceeding the 2007 pre-recession level of 13.5 million. Employment then declined in 2016 to 13.0 million.
  • Total national expenditures on transportation accounted for roughly $1,196 billion of all personal expenditures, making it the fourth largest expenditure category (excluding other) after healthcare, housing, and food.
  • Total government transportation revenues continue to fall short of government transportation expenditures. In 2014 government transportation revenues covered 56.7 percent of expenditures. The gap between transportation revenues and expenditures has declined since 2009, when revenues covered 52.5 percent of expenditures.
  • The total costs faced by producers of transportation services declined during the 2007 to 2009 recession, and then climbed steadily through 2014. The average price of air, rail, and truck transportation services declined between 2014 and 2016, while water transportation service prices rose in 2015 before falling below their 2014 level in 2016.

Chapter 6 Transportation Safety

  • Highway deaths per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled rose from a historic low of 1.08 in 2014 to 1.18 in 2016 as deaths climbed from 32,744 to 37,461—a 14.4 percent increase in 2 years.
  • Pedestrian deaths are the most since 1990. Pedestrian fatalities rose by over 1,000 between 2014 and 2016, reaching 5,987 in 2016—a 21.9 percent increase over the period and the most since 1990. 
  • Deaths of motorcycle riders grew from 4,594 in 2014 to 5,286 in 2016—a 15.1 percent increase.  The rate of motorcyclist fatalities per vehicle mile of travel is 29 times greater than that for passenger car occupants. Also, they are 5 time more likely to be injured. Helmet use declined from 71 percent in 2000 to 65 percent in 2016.
  • The estimated number of people injured in highway motor vehicle crashes increased by about 105,000 between 2014 and 2015, reaching 2.44 million.
  • Alcohol use continues to be a major factor in transportation deaths and injuries. In 2016, 25 percent of motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes were alcohol impaired, and alcohol use was the leading factor in 15 percent of fatal recreational boating accidents where the accident cause was known.
  • It has been estimated that 3,258 motor vehicle occupants and motorcyclists who died in crashes in 2016 might have lived if they had used seat belts or motorcycle helmets, and 83 percent of the boaters who drowned in 2016 were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Some 1,132 children aged 14 and under died, and an estimated 178,000 were injured in motor vehicle-related incidents in 2015—an average of about 3 deaths and 487 injuries a day.
  • In the 2006 to 2015 period, a total of 301 school-aged children (18 and under) died in school transportation-related crashes—about 30 deaths per year on average.
  • Trespassing-related fatalities accounted for 57.2 percent of the railroad deaths in 2016, and highway-rail crossing fatalities accounted for another one-third.
  • Speeding continues to be the number one cited driver-related factor in highway fatal crashes. Almost half of speeding drivers in fatal crashes were found to have been drinking.

Chapter 7 Transportation Energy Use and Environmental Impacts

  • The energy required to move one person one mile or one ton of freight one mile has generally declined over time.
  • Transportation continues to rely almost entirely on petroleum to move people and goods. However, the sector’s dependence has decreased from a peak of 97.3 percent in 1978 to 92.2 percent in 2016. This is due in part to increased blending of domestically produced ethanol in gasoline and improved fuel economy.
  • Increased domestic oil production sharply reduced transportation’s dependence on imported oil, from a high of 60.3 percent in 2005 to 24.8 percent in 2015.
  • The highway mode continues to dominate transportation energy use, accounting for 61.6 percent of total transportation energy use.
  • Transportation is the second largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), accounting for 27.0 percent of total U.S. emissions in 2015.
  • Overall, greenhouse gases and the six other most common air pollutant emissions from transportation, with the exception of particulate matter (PM-10), are below their 2000 levels, and continued to decline from 2009 to 2016 due to many factors, including motor vehicle emissions controls and technological advancements, such as electric vehicles have contributed to considerable reductions.
  • Reductions in transportation’s air emissions have contributed to improved air quality in the Nation’s urban areas. On average, air quality was good for 247 days in 2015 compared to 192 days in 2000.
  • Over 97 percent of the U.S. population has potential to be exposed to aviation and interstate highway noise at levels below 50 decibels (equivalent to the sound of a humming refrigerator).

Chapter 8 The State of Transportation Statistics

  • Progress is being made on the availability of transportation statistics, such as the establishment of an annual Port Performance Freight Statistics Program and implementation of the Repository and Open Science Access Portal, but long-standing information gaps remain.
  • Extensive data are available on local passenger travel and most long-distance freight movement, but data gaps persist for most forms of long-distance surface passenger travel, domestic movement of international trade, and local freight movement.
  • Cost data are available for most forms of passenger travel, but are limited for freight movement.
  • Substantial data are available on crashes related to transportation, but the availability of data on causation of safety problems varies by mode of transportation, and the integration of data on motor vehicle crashes, the conditions surrounding each crash, and consequences of the crash remains elusive.
  • “Big data” and other alternative data sources may offer ways to update, validate, and improve the detail of traditional statistics. Research is needed to determine the reliability and validity of statistics derived from blended sources, to establish institutional arrangements for access to large proprietary databases, and to integrate these new data sources with traditional forms of data and analysis to provide effective information for decision makers.
  • The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) has achieved significant progress in improving the state of transportation statistics over the last 25 years and will continue to create increasingly robust, timely, credible statistics that support evidence-based decision making and that are useful and used throughout the Nation.
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2018
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