North American Transborder Freight Data

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March 2016 North American Freight Numbers

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Figure 1.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: March 2015-2016

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Figure 1.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode: March 2015-2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,

All five transportation modes carried less U.S. freight by value with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in March 2016 compared to March 2015. The total value of cross-border freight carried on all modes fell 5.8 percent from 2015 to $90.5 billion in current dollars, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by theU.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1, Table 1).

Freight by Mode
The value of commodities moving by truck declined 1.1 percent, the smallest decrease from 2015 to 2016 of any mode. The value of freight carried on other modes also declined: rail 7.7 percent; air 9.0 percent; vessel 31.9 percent; and pipeline 33.2 percent (Figure 1, Table 2). A drop in the price of crude oil played a key role in the large declines in the dollar value of products shipped by vessel and pipeline. Crude oil (a component of mineral fuels) comprises a large share of the commodities carried by these modes. Average monthly prices for crude petroleum and refined fuel are available from the .

Trucks carried 67.3 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continued to be the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $31.4 billion of the $48.0 billion of imports (65.3 percent) and $29.5 billion of the $42.5 billion of exports (69.4 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 15.5 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 4.5 percent; air, 4.0 percent; and pipeline, 3.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.4 percent of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows (Table 2).

U.S.-Canada Freight

Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: March 2015-2016

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Figure 2.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode: March 2015-2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,

From March 2015 to March 2016, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows fell 8.8 percent to $46.4 billion as all modes of transportation carried a lower value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier.

Lower crude oil prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease in the value of freight moved between the U.S. and Canada. Crude oil is a large share of freight carried by pipeline and vessel, which were down 34.4 percent and 53.3 percent respectively year-over-year (Figure 2, Table 3).

Trucks carried 62.1 percent of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 17.0 percent followed by pipeline, 6.5 percent; air, 4.9 percent; and vessel, 2.3 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.5 percent of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows (Table 3).

U.S.-Mexico Freight

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: March 2015-2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 3.  Percent Change in Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode: March 2015-2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,

From March 2015 to March 2016, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight fell 2.6 percent to $44.1 billion as all modes of transportation except truck carried a lower value of U.S.-Mexico freight than a year earlier. Freight carried by truck increased 0.7 percent, primarily because of an increase in shipments of computers and parts. Rail freight value declined 8.6 percent while air freight value declined 10.1 percent. Pipeline freight value dropped by 14.2 percent, while vessel freight value decreased by 18.9 percent, both due mainly to lower crude oil prices (Figure 3, Table 4).

Trucks carried 72.7 percent of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 14.0 percent followed by vessel, 6.8 percent; air, 3.0 percent; and pipeline, 0.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 87.2 percent of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities
In March 2016, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada by all modes was vehicles and parts, of which $5.3 billion, or 55.4 percent, moved by truck and $4.0 billion, or 42.2 percent, moved by rail (Figure 4). The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico by all modes in March 2016 was electrical machinery, of which $7.7 billion, or 91.3 percent, moved by truck (Figure 5).

Reporting Notes
BTS press releases and the BTS website define surface transportation modes as truck, rail and pipeline. See  on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004. The category of all modes of transportation cited in the following tables includes freight movements by truck, rail, vessel, pipeline, air, and unknown modes of transport. 

Data in this press release are not seasonally adjusted and are not adjusted for inflation. Additional summary data adjusted for inflation and exchange rates can be found on the BTS website under . The BLS indexes used in the adjustments for inflation and exchange rates may be revised in each of the three months after original publication. For more information, see TransBorder Press Releases for previous press releases and summary tables. See for data from previous months, and for additional state, port, and commodity data. BTS has scheduled the release of April TransBorder numbers for June 23.

Table 1. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows

(millions of current dollars)

Month201420152016Percent Change 2014-2015Percent Change 2015-2016
January90,32689,25882,430-1.2-7.7
February89,55785,72384,038-4.3-2.0
March101,47896,07090,462-5.3-5.8
April100,14193,327 -6.8 
May103,94292,707 -10.8 
June102,97899,030 -3.8 
July101,07592,995 -8.0 
August100,62492,442 -8.1 
September102,24593,246 -8.8 
October108,24396,624 -10.7 
November96,25288,154 -8.4 
December95,81186,748 -9.5 
Year-to-date281,361271,052256,929-3.7-5.2
Annual1,192,6711,106,325 -7.2 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Note: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding.

Table 2. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode March 2015March 2016Percent Change March 2015-2016
All ModesImports51,16647,994-6.2
Exports44,90442,468-5.4
Total96,07090,462-5.8
All Surface ModesImports44,59142,911-3.8
Exports37,01335,226-4.8
Total81,60578,137-4.2
TruckImports30,58431,3642.6
Exports30,93529,472-4.7
Total61,51960,836-1.1
RailImports9,9999,095-9.0
Exports5,2194,956-5.0
Total15,21814,051-7.7
PipelineImports4,0082,452-38.8
Exports859798-7.1
Total4,8673,250-33.2
VesselImports3,3811,972-41.7
Exports2,5542,072-18.9
Total5,9354,043-31.9
AirImports1,5051,5110.4
Exports2,4792,115-14.7
Total3,9843,627-9.0

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: .

Table 3. Value of Monthly U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode March 2015March 2016Percent Change March 2015-2016
All ModesImports25,79723,250-9.9
Exports25,03523,129-7.6
Total50,83146,379-8.8
All Surface ModesImports22,40120,597-8.1
Exports20,34319,078-6.2
Total42,74439,675-7.2
TruckImports12,69912,9431.9
Exports17,00315,854-6.8
Total29,70228,797-3.0
RailImports5,7025,220-8.4
Exports2,7632,656-3.9
Total8,4657,876-7.0
PipelineImports4,0012,435-39.1
Exports578567-1.8
Total4,5783,002-34.4
VesselImports1,316774-41.2
Exports926273-70.5
Total2,2421,047-53.3
AirImports8949091.6
Exports1,6041,382-13.8
Total2,4992,291-8.3

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: .

Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, March 2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, March 2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,
NOTES: Import and export numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

Table 4. Value of Monthly U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation

(millions of current dollars)

Mode March 2015March 2016Percent Change March 2015-2016
All ModesImports25,36924,744-2.5
Exports19,87019,339-2.7
Total45,23944,083-2.6
All Surface ModesImports22,19022,3140.6
Exports16,67016,148-3.1
Total38,86038,462-1.0
TruckImports17,88518,4223.0
Exports13,93213,618-2.3
Total31,81732,0390.7
RailImports4,2973,875-9.8
Exports2,4562,300-6.4
Total6,7546,175-8.6
PipelineImports717132.2
Exports282231-18.1
Total289248-14.2
VesselImports2,0651,198-42.0
Exports1,6281,79910.5
Total3,6942,997-18.9
AirImports610603-1.2
Exports875733-16.3
Total1,4851,336-10.1

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data,

Notes: Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding. Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding. The value of trade for all modes is not equal to the sum of truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air modes, it also includes shipments made by mail, foreign trade zones, and other transportation. For additional detail, please refer to the “Data Fields” section of the TransBorder web page: .

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, March 2016

Table Version | Excel

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, March 2016

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics,
NOTES: Import and export numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

Updated: Friday, December 15, 2017
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