Transportation Services Index

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January 2019 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Release Number: 
07-19
Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2019

 

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 0.4 percent in January from December, rising after a one-month decline but increasing for the fifth out of the last six months. For the year from January 2018, the index rose 4.7 percent compared to 5.3 percent for the previous 12-month period (Table 4).

(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)
MonthFreight TSI
Jan-14116.0
Feb-14117.9
Mar-14119.9
Apr-14120.5
May-14120.9
Jun-14119.7
Jul-14120.4
Aug-14120.8
Sep-14121.9
Oct-14122.5
Nov-14123.3
Dec-14123.2
Jan-15122.9
Feb-15121.5
Mar-15122.6
Apr-15121.5
May-15121.7
Jun-15121.3
Jul-15122.3
Aug-15123.0
Sep-15123.0
Oct-15122.5
Nov-15120.9
Dec-15120.4
Jan-16122.1
Feb-16121.5
Mar-16120.2
Apr-16122.3
May-16121.6
Jun-16122.2
Jul-16125.1
Aug-16122.9
Sep-16121.6
Oct-16122.5
Nov-16123.2
Dec-16124.1
Jan-17124.0
Feb-17124.3
Mar-17124.3
Apr-17124.7
May-17124.8
Jun-17125.2
Jul-17127.6
Aug-17128.3
Sep-17127.5
Oct-17129.2
Nov-17131.1
Dec-17132.4
Jan-18130.6
Feb-18132.7
Mar-18134.5
Apr-18134.5
May-18135.6
Jun-18136.3
Jul-18135.2
Aug-18135.3
Sep-18136.2
Oct-18137.9
Nov-18138.4
Dec-18136.2
Jan-19136.7
Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

The level of for-hire freight shipments in January measured by the Freight TSI (136.8) was 1.2 percent below the all-time high level of 138.4 in November 2018 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical data.

The December 2018 index was revised upward to 136.3 from 134.2 in last month’s release but remains below the November all-time high. As a result of the revisions, the 2018 annual increase in the index was 2.9 percent, revised upward from 1.4 percent in last month’s release. Also, from November to December the index declined 1.6 percent, a smaller decrease than the 3.1 percent decline reported in last month’s release. Monthly numbers for September through November were revised down slightly.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire 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. The TSI is seasonally-adjusted to remove regular seasons from month-to-month comparisons.

Analysis: The January rise in Freight TSI was driven by increases in trucking and pipeline, while air freight, water, rail carloads and rail intermodal declined. The TSI increase took place against a background of mixed results for other indicators. The   declined by 0.6 percent in January, with a decrease in manufacturing and increases in mining and utilities.  declined slightly. The rose to 56.6, indicating accelerating growth. 

Trend: The 0.4 percent increase in the Freight TSI in January following a decline in December, was the fifth monthly increase in six months since July 2018, for a total increase of 1.2 percent in that period. The Freight TSI has now been at or above its March 2018 level of 134.5, itself a new high, for 11 consecutive months. The index is now up 4.7 percent over its level of 12 months ago. The January index was 44.3 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. For additional historical data, go to data.

Index highs and lows: For-hire freight shipments in January 2019 (136.7) were 44.3 percent higher than the low in April 2009 during the recession (94.8). The January 2019 level was 1.2 percent below the historic peak reached in November 2018 (138.4) (Table 1A).

Year to date: For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 0.4 percent in January compared to the end of 2018 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: For-hire freight shipments are up 17.9 percent in the five years from January 2014 and are up 38.9 percent in the 10 years from January 2009 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: January 2019 for-hire freight shipments were up 4.7 percent from January 2018 (Tables 4, 5).

The TSI has three seasonally-adjusted indexes that measure 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. See for numbers for individual modes. TSI includes data from 2000 to the present. Release of the February 2019 index is scheduled for April 10.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.2 percent in January from its December level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI January 2019 level of 130.8 was 3.0 percent above the January 2018 level (Table 7). The index is up 11.0 percent in five years and up 19.2 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 0.4 percent in January from its December level (Table 8). The combined TSI January 2019 level of 134.9 was 4.3 percent above the January 2018 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 15.7 percent in five years and up 32.4 percent in 10 years (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: Monthly data has changed from previous releases due to the use of concurrent seasonal analysis, which results in seasonal analysis factors changing as each month’s data are added.    

BTS research has shown a clear relationship between economic cycles and the Freight and Passenger Transportation Services Indexes. See a study of this relationship using smoothed and detrended TSI data. Researchers who wish to compare TSI over time with other economic indicators, can use the , which includes freight, passenger and combined TSI, and which makes it possible to easily graph TSI alongside the other series in that database. See .   

A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

Percent Change from Previous Month, (Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)
FreightPassengerCombined
IndexPct. Change IndexPct. Change IndexPct. Change
July135.2-0.8131.4-0.1134.0-0.5
August135.30.1131.0-0.3133.9-0.1
September136.20.7128.0-2.3133.5-0.3
October137.91.2131.12.4135.71.6
November138.40.4131.0-0.1136.00.2
December136.3-1.5130.5-0.4134.4-1.2
January136.80.4130.80.2134.90.4
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

YearMonthPeakMonthBottom
2009December101.6April94.8
2015August123.0July120.4
2016July125.1March120.2
2017December132.3December124.0
2018November138.4January130.6
2019(thru January)January136.8January136.8
Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

Percent change from previous month
2016201720182019
% Change% Change% Change% Change
January1.40.0-1.30.4
February-0.50.21.6
March-1.10.01.4
April1.70.30.0
May-0.60.10.8
June0.50.30.5
July2.41.9-0.8
August-1.80.50.1
September-1.1-0.60.7
October0.71.31.2
November0.61.50.4
December0.60.8-1.5
Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

2016201720182019
January122.1124.0130.6136.8
February121.5124.3132.7
March120.2124.3134.5
April122.3124.7134.5
May121.6124.8135.6
June122.2125.2136.3
July125.1127.6135.2
August122.9128.3135.3
September121.6127.5136.2
October122.5129.2137.9
November123.2131.2138.4
December124.0132.3136.3
Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

Percent change to January from December of the previous year
YearFreightPassengerCombined
20101.60.11.2
20111.20.20.8
2012-3.0-0.4-2.3
20131.91.01.6
2014-1.40.0-1.0
2015-0.2-0.4-0.3
20161.4-0.60.8
20170.00.50.2
2018-1.3-0.6-1.1
20190.40.20.4
Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

Percent change in the January Freight TSI, (Monthly average of 2000 = 100)
January Freight TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2010103.24.8
2011110.06.6
2012111.61.5
2013114.32.4
2014116.01.5
2015122.95.9
2016122.1-0.7
2017124.01.6
2018130.65.3
2019136.84.7
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

Percent Change to 2019 (January to January)
Since January . . .Duration in yearsFreight TSI Percent change to January 2019Passenger TSI Percent change to January 2019Combined TSI Percent change to January 2019
201814.73.04.3
2017210.33.68.1
2016312.05.69.9
2015411.38.810.5
2014517.911.015.7
2013619.711.717.1
2012722.613.519.7
2011824.415.421.5
2010932.618.428.0
20091038.919.232.4
Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

Percent change from previous month
2016201720182019
% Change% Change% Change% Change
January-0.60.5-0.60.2
February1.5-1.11.3
March-2.40.70.2
April1.11.00.7
May0.2-0.30.6
June0.60.30.8
July-0.50.2-0.1
August-1.0-0.3-0.3
September1.9-2.3-2.3
October-1.52.92.4
November0.90.6-0.1
December0.6-0.4-0.4
Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

Percent change in the January Passenger TSI, (Monthly average of 2000 = 100)
January Passenger TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2010110.50.7
2011113.32.5
2012115.21.7
2013117.11.6
2014117.80.6
2015120.22.0
2016123.93.1
2017126.21.9
2018127.00.6
2019130.83.0
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

Percent change from previous month
2016201720182019
% Change% Change% Change% Change
January0.80.2-1.10.4
February0.1-0.21.5
March-1.50.21.0
April1.60.60.2
May-0.30.00.8
June0.50.20.5
July1.51.4-0.5
August-1.50.2-0.1
September-0.1-1.1-0.3
October0.01.81.6
November0.71.20.2
December0.60.5-1.2
Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

Percent change in the January Combined TSI, (Monthly average of 2000 = 100)
January Combined TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2010105.43.4
2011111.05.3
2012112.71.5
2013115.22.2
2014116.61.2
2015122.14.7
2016122.80.6
2017124.81.6
2018129.43.7
2019134.94.3
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

EmEdjimurjE

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, sightseeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized transportation.

The TSI includes only domestic "for-hire" freight and passenger transportation. For-hire transportation consists of freight or passenger transport services provided by a firm to external customers for a fee. The TSI does not include taxi services, paid ride services in personal motor vehicles (e.g., Uber, Lyft, etc.), intercity bus services, in-house transportation (vehicles owned and operated by private firms for their own use), or noncommercial passenger travel (e.g., trips in the household car).

Updated: Thursday, March 28, 2019