USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Inland Waterborne Traffic Used in the Transportation Services Index

Tuesday, March 5, 2024


Source: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Waterborne Commerce of the United States (government).


The Transportation Services Index (TSI) relies on ton and ton-mile data on inland waterborne trade from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). USACEs Waterborne Commerce of the United States (WCUS) Part 5 provides statistics on the foreign and domestic waterborne commerce on U.S. waters. 


All vessel operators on record ENG Forms 3925 and 3925b (or equivalent), as approved by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3510(a)), report data to the USACE. Generally, operators submit data for individual vessel movements completed. For cargo movements, operators must submit points of loading and unloading of each individual commodity. Cargo moved for military agencies in commercial vessels count as ordinary commercial cargo. The data exclude military cargo movements in Department of Defense (DOD) vessels. Domestic cargo movements exclude: cargo carried on general ferries; fuel products, such as coal and petroleum, loaded from shore facilities directly into vessel bunkers; and insignificant amounts for government materials (less than 100 tons moved on government-owned equipment in support of USACE projects).

Legal Authority

USACEs legal authority for the collection, compilation, and publication of waterborne commerce statistics is Section 11 of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriations Act of 1922 (42 Stat. 1043), as amended, and codified in 33 U.S.C. 555. Section 11 states that:

Individuals and corporations engaged in transporting their own goods on the navigable waters of the United States must report data related to vessels, passengers, freight, and tonnage as may be required by the Secretary of the Army.

Data Quality Questions


As all vessel operators must report waterborne traffic movements to the USACE, these data are a census. The data exclude military cargo transported on DOD vessels.

  • Is this data source a frame or sample?
    Data source is a frame.
  • Does the sample cover the entire frame? Or is some group missing or underrepresented in the sample? For the excluded group, what percentage of the total do they make up?
    Cargo moved for the military agencies in commercial vessels counts as ordinary commercial cargo. USACE does not collect military cargo moved in DOD vessels. Beginning in 1996, USACE excluded fish landing data from internal and intraport domestic traffic data


  • Are the data available monthly?
  • How soon are the data available after the month is over?
    Usually within one week (e.g., in the first week of July, data for June are available).
  • Are the data easy to access and use?
    Web site: (link is external)
  • Are the microdata available for use?
    The monthly tons/ton-miles for different commodities can be requested from the USACE.


  • Are there duplicate records?
  • Are there outliers in the data?
  • Are data missing for individual records? If so, how are they identified?
  • How accurate are the key data fields?
    USACE rounds tonnage figures to the nearest 1,000 tons, a zero represents less than 500 tons but more than zero. Dashes mean zero tons.
  • Are variances available for this data source? If so, what method was used to calculate variances?
    Variances are available from USACE


  • Are the data comparable over time within the data source? If not, can data be made to be comparable (e.g., combining two data series)?
    The tonnage for years 1990 and later is comparable to tonnages in years prior to 1990.

Other Questions

  • Is sufficient documentation available for the data source?
    USACE publishes documentation in the Annual Waterborne Commerce of the United States (WCUS) Waterways and Harbors, Part 5, National Summaries.
    • Data dictionary:
      Included in documentation - see above.
    • Detailed description of the methodology:
      All vessel operators report the traffic movement to the USACE. Inland vessel movements defined as movements that take place solely on inland waterways geographically located within the boundaries of the continental United States, including Alaska. The tonnage figures provided through the Waterborne Commerce of the United States represent short tons (2,000 pounds). USACE publishes documentation in the Annual Waterborne Commerce of the United States (WCUS) Waterways and Harbors, Part 5, National Summaries.
  • Are other sources available for the same data?
  • Who is the contact for the data source?
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center,