Transportation Services Index

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Freight Shipments Rose 1.0% in December from November

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, January 2008-December 2012

bts07_13_graphic.xlsx

Five Years: Freight Transportation Services Index, January 2008-December 2012

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 1.0 percent in December from November, rising for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The December 2012 index level (109.9) was 16.6 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession (Tables 1, 2A).

BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in December measured by the Freight TSI (109.9) was 3.5 percent (Table 3) below the all-time high level of 114.0 in December 2011 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records began in 1990. See historical .

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: The Freight TSI increased in December 2012, its second consecutive month of growth with both rail freight and trucking showing large increases. The rail and trucking increases were due, at least in part, to further recovery from Hurricane Sandy, as well as general economic activity.

Trend: Since peaking in December 2011 (114.0) at the highest level in the 22-year history of the Freight TSI series, the index remained in a narrow band through 2012, except for a drop in October (107.1), its lowest level since May 2011 (105.2). The index ended 2012 in December at the same level it started in January (109.9). After dipping to 94.3 in April 2009 during the recession, freight shipments increased in 29 of the last 44 months, rising 16.6 percent during that period (Tables 2, 2A). For additional historical data, go to .

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in December 2012 (109.9) were 16.6 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.3). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The December 2012 level is down 3.5 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (114.0).

Year-end: Freight shipments measured by the index were down 3.5 percent and the end of 2012 compared to the end of 2011, the first such decline since 2008 after three years of increases (Table 3).

Long-term trend: Freight shipments are up 0.1 percent in the five years from its pre-recession level in December 2007 and are up 5.3 percent in the 10 years from December 2002 despite declines in recent years (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: December 2012 freight shipments were down 3.5 percent from December 2011, but rose 10.6 percent from December 2008 during the recession. Shipments measured by the index remained below the level of December 2005 (111.4) two years prior to the recession (Tables 4, 5).

4th Quarter Changes: The Freight TSI rose 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter following a 0.6 percent fall in the third quarter (revised from no change) and a 0.3 percent rise in the second quarter. The index increased in 11 of the last 14 quarters (Table 10).  

The TSI has three seasonally adjusted indexes that measures changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. The three indexes are freight shipments, passenger travel and a combined measure that merges the freight and passenger indexes. TSI includes historical data from 1990 to the present. Release of the January 2013 index is scheduled for March 13.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.7 percent in December from its November level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI December 2012 level of 118.4 was 1.7 percent above the December 2011 level (Table 7). The index is up 1.1 percent in five years and up 21.4 percent in 10 years (Table 5).  The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel that involves the services of the for-hire passenger transportation sector. The seasonally adjusted index consists of data from air, local transit and intercity rail.

Combined Index: The combined freight and passenger TSI rose 0.9 percent in December from its November level (Table 8). The combined TSI December 2012 level of 112.2 was 2.1 percent below the December 2011 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 0.3 percent in five years and up 9.7 percent in 10 years despite recent declines (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: TSI numbers for August (Freight, Passenger and Combined) were revised because of revisions in the output data of the component transportation services. The August Freight TSI is 109.1, revised from 109.0 reported in last month’s release. The August Passenger TSI is 116.2 revised from 117.4. The August Combined TSI is 110.9 revised from 111.2. The TSI for September, October, November and December are preliminary.

TSI revision policy: TSI is updated monthly with the latest four months’ index numbers considered preliminary. Each month BTS releases the latest preliminary TSI, and replaces the oldest preliminary TSI with a revised TSI. More information about the BTS revision policies is available at and . 

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Since June 2012

Percent Change from Previous Month
(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)

bts07_13_table01.xlsx

 FreightPassengerCombined
IndexPct. ChangeIndexPct. ChangeIndexPct. Change
June109.90.1115.80.1111.40.1
July109.8-0.1114.8-0.9111.1-0.3
AugustR109.1-0.7116.21.2110.9-0.1
SeptemberP109.20.1118.52.0111.70.7
OctoberP107.1-1.9117.5-0.8109.9-1.6
NovemberP108.91.7117.60.1111.21.2
DecemberP109.91.0118.40.7112.20.9

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2009-2012

Percent change from previous month

bts07_13_table02.xlsx

 2009 % Change2010 % Change2011 % Change2012 % Change
January-2.40.51.0-3.6
February2.81.1-1.40.7
March-4.01.22.0-1.0
April-1.60.1-1.00.1
May0.30.5-2.10.1
June1.0-0.12.50.1
July1.60.3-0.2-0.1
August1.5-0.40.4(R) -0.7
September-0.51.11.1(P) 0.1
October-0.70.2-0.3(P) -1.9
November2.9-0.70.1(P) 1.7
December0.62.44.7(P) 1.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2009-2012

bts07_13_table02a.xlsx

 2009201020112012
January97.1101.1107.9109.9
February99.8102.3106.4110.6
March95.9103.6108.6109.5
April94.3103.7107.4109.7
May94.6104.2105.2109.8
June95.5104.0107.8109.9
July97.1104.3107.6109.8
August98.5103.9108.0(R) 109.1
September98.0105.0109.1(P) 109.2
October97.3105.2108.8(P) 107.1
November100.1104.4108.9(P) 108.9
December100.7106.9114.0(P) 109.9

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 3: Annual Change in Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes, 2003-2012

Percent change to December from December of the previous year

bts07_13_table03.xlsx

YearFreightPassengerCombined
20032.93.02.9
20042.66.03.5
20051.12.51.5
2006-1.54.70.2
20070.12.50.8
2008-9.5-5.4-8.4
20091.3-0.70.7
20106.23.05.3
20116.62.85.5
2012P-3.51.7-2.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the December Freight TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

bts07_13_table04.xlsx

 December Freight TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2003107.42.9
2004110.22.6
2005111.41.1
2006109.8-1.5
2007109.90.1
200899.4-9.5
2009100.71.3
2010106.96.2
2011114.06.6
2012P109.9-3.5

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Years

Percent Change to December 2012 from December of previous years

bts07_13_table05.xlsx

Since December . . .Duration in yearsFreight TSI Percent change to December 2012Passenger TSI Percent change to December 2012Combined TSI Percent change to December 2012
20111-3.51.7-2.1
201022.84.63.3
200939.27.78.8
2008410.66.99.6
200750.11.10.3
200660.23.71.2
20057-1.38.51.4
20048-0.211.22.9
200392.317.96.6
2002105.321.49.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: The percent changes to December 2012 are all preliminary

 

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2009-2012

Percent change from previous month

bts07_13_table06.xlsx

 2009 % Change2010 % Change2011 % Change2012 % Change
January-1.00.60.2-1.0
February0.5-2.1-0.21.4
March-1.42.30.9-0.3
April1.40.2-0.1-0.4
May-1.70.61.2-0.2
June0.50.8-0.60.1
July1.5-0.20.1-0.9
August-0.10.2-1.2(R) 1.2
September-0.61.01.4(P) 2.0
October0.10.9-0.4(P) -0.8
November-0.1-0.30.5(P) 0.1
December0.2-1.00.9(P) 0.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

 

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the December Passenger TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

bts07_13_table07.xlsx

 December Passenger TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2003100.43.0
2004106.56.0
2005109.12.5
2006114.24.7
2007117.12.5
2008110.8-5.4
2009110.0-0.7
2010113.33.0
2011116.42.8
2012P118.41.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2009-2012

Percent change from previous month

bts07_13_table08.xlsx

 2009 % Change2010 % Change2011 % Change2012 % Change
January-2.00.50.7-2.9
February2.20.2-1.10.9
March-3.31.51.7-0.8
April-0.80.1-0.80.0
May-0.30.5-1.20.0
June0.90.11.60.1
July1.60.1-0.1-0.3
August1.1-0.2-0.1(R) -0.1
September-0.51.01.2(P) 0.7
October-0.50.4-0.3(P) -1.6
November2.1-0.60.2(P) 1.2
December0.51.53.6(P) 0.9

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

 

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year

Percent change in the December Combined TSI
(Monthly average of 2000 = 100)

bts07_13_table09.xlsx

 December Combined TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2003105.32.9
2004109.03.5
2005110.71.5
2006110.90.2
2007111.80.8
2008102.4-8.4
2009103.10.7
2010108.65.3
2011114.65.5
2012P112.2-2.1

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary

NOTE: Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

 

Table 10: Freight Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2003-2012

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

bts07_13_table10.xlsx

Year1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2003-0.9-1.01.83.0
20041.90.5-0.40.6
20051.4-0.6-0.30.7
2006-0.50.9-0.6-1.3
20070.9-2.2-0.21.6
2008-0.20.1-2.5-7.0
2009-3.6-0.42.62.8
20102.90.50.91.9
20111.5-0.71.34.4
2012-3.9(R) 0.3(P) -0.6(P) 0.7

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Table 11: Passenger Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2003-2012

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

bts07_13_table11.xlsx

Year1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2003-4.00.14.52.5
20041.82.1-0.92.9
20051.90.50.9-0.9
20062.00.1-0.83.3
20072.10.40.7-0.6
2008-0.1-0.3-2.7-2.3
2009-1.90.10.80.3
20100.71.61.0-0.4
20111.00.50.31.0
20120.1(R) -0.6(P) 2.3(P) 0.0

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

 

Table 12: Combined Transportation Services Index Change by Quarter, 2003-2012

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter

bts07_13_table12.xlsx

Year1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2003-1.7-0.72.62.9
20041.81.0-0.51.2
20051.5-0.20.00.2
20060.20.7-0.70.0
20071.3-1.50.01.0
2008-0.20.0-2.6-5.8
2009-3.1-0.22.12.1
20102.30.80.91.2
20111.4-0.41.03.5
2012-2.8(R) 0.1(P) 0.2(P) 0.5

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

NOTE: P = preliminary; R = revised

Brief Explanation of the TSI

The Transportation Services Index (TSI) is a measure of the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire transportation industries.  The freight index measure changes in freight shipments while the passenger index measures changes in passenger travel.

The TSI tells us how the output of transportation services has increased or decreased from month to month. The index can be examined together with other economic indicators to produce a better understanding of the current and future course of the economy.   The movement of the index over time can be compared with other economic measures to understand the relationship of changes in transportation output to changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The freight transportation index consists of:

For-hire trucking,
Railroad freight services (including rail based intermodal shipments such as containers on flat cars),
Inland waterways transportation,
Pipeline transportation (including principally petroleum and petroleum products and natural gas), and
Air freight.

The index does not include international or coastal waterborne movements, private trucking, courier services, or the US Postal Service.

The passenger transportation index consists of:
Local transit,
Intercity passenger rail, and
Passenger air transportation.

The index does not include intercity bus, sight seeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized transportation. 

For a webinar on the TSI, see Past Webinars.  For a video explanation of the TSI, see .  A BTS report explaining the TSI, , is available for download.

Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017
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