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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

2017 North American Freight Numbers

Friday, March 16, 2018

Figure 1: U.S.-North American Freight by Mode: 2016-2017

Mode 2016 2017 Percent Change between 2016-2017
Truck 700 721 3.0
Rail 166 174 5.2
Pipeline 50 65 31.3
Air 42 44 5.3
Vessel 58 76 29.6
Total 1,069 1,139 6.6
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder as of February 2018.

All five major transportation modes – truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air – carried more U.S. freight with Canada and Mexico by value in 2017 than in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1 and Table 1).

Freight by Mode

The share of the value of freight moved by vessel rose by 1.2 percent and the pipeline share increased by 1.1 percent from 2016 to 2017. A 17.3 percent increase in the year-over-year price of crude oil in 2017 played a key role in the annual increases in the dollar value of goods shipped by pipeline (up 31.3 percent) and vessel (up 29.6 percent). As a result of the vessel and pipeline increases, the share of freight moved on other modes declined: air by 0.1 percent, rail by 0.2, and truck by 2.2 percent. Average monthly prices for crude petroleum and refined fuel are available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Figure 2: North American Freight by Mode, 2017

Mode 2017
Truck 721
Rail 174
Pipeline 65
Air 44
Vessel 76
Other 60
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder as of February 2018.

Trucks continued to be the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both Canada and Mexico, carrying 63.3 percent of the freight transported.  Despite a 2.2 percentage point decrease from 2016 in the share carried, trucks accounted for $720.8 billion of the $1.1 trillion in freight flows with Canada and Mexico in 2017 (Table 1).

Rail remained the second largest mode, moving $174.1 billion or 15.3 percent, followed by vessel, 6.6 percent; pipeline, 5.7 percent; and air, 3.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail, and pipeline combined carried 84.3 percent of the total value (Figure 2, Table 1).

Trucks carried 60.2 percent of the $614.0 billion of goods imported from Canada and Mexico in 2017, followed by rail, 18.5 percent; pipeline, 8.4 percent; vessel, 6.4 percent; and air, 3.1 percent. Trucks carried 66.8 percent of the $525.5 billion of goods exported to Canada and Mexico, followed by rail, 11.5 percent; vessel, 6.9 percent; air, 4.8 percent; and pipeline, 2.6 percent (Table 1).

The total value of cross-border freight carried on all modes rose 6.6 percent from 2016 to $1.2 trillion in current dollars,

The category of all modes of transportation cited in the following tables includes freight movements by truck, rail, vessel, pipeline, air, other and unknown modes of transport. See North American TransBorder Freight Data for historic data. 

U.S.-Canada Freight

From 2016 to 2017, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased 7.1 percent to $582.4 billion. Trucks carried 57.7 percent of the value of the freight, followed by rail, 16.2 percent; pipeline, 10.6 percent; vessel, 3.9 percent; and air, 4.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail, and pipeline combined carried 84.5 percent of the value (Table 2).

Although trucks carried the largest share (57.7 percent) of U.S.-Canada freight by value in 2017, its share of the total decreased by 2.4 percentage points from 2016. The modal shares of rail and air also decreased, both down 0.1 percentage points. Pipeline’s share rose by 2.2 percentage points while vessel rose 0.6 points, both due in part to an increase in the year-over-year price of crude oil in 2017 (Table 2).

Trucks carried 50.1 percent of the $300.0 billion of goods imported from Canada in 2017, followed by rail, 20.6 percent; pipeline, 17.2 percent; vessel, 5.0 percent; and air, 3.8 percent. Trucks carried 65.7 percent of the $282.5 billion of goods exported to Canada, followed by rail, 11.5 percent; air, 5.6 percent; pipeline, 3.5 percent; and vessel, 2.8 percent (Table 2).

Michigan led all U.S.-Canada Border states serving as a gateway for 38.3 percent of freight carried between the U.S. and Canada in 2017, handling $222.8 billion, an increase of 5.2 percent. Minnesota ports of entry had the largest percent increase among northern border states, growing 20.8 percent over 2016 (Table 3).

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada in 2017 was vehicles and parts valued at $107.4 billion with $60.7 billion or 56.5 percent moved by truck and $43.7 billion or 40.7 percent moved by rail (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, 2017 Annual

Mode Commodities Exports Imports Total
All Modes Vehicles and Parts 51 56 107
Truck Vehicles and Parts 31 29 61
Rail Vehicles and Parts 18 26 44
Pipeline Mineral Fuels 10 51 61
Vessel Mineral Fuels 6 11 17
Air Electrical Machinery 4 2 5
Notes:

Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder as of February 2018.

U.S.-Mexico Freight

From 2016 to 2017, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased 6.1 percent to $557.0 billion. Trucks carried 69.1 percent of the value of the freight, followed by rail, 14.4 percent; vessel, 9.5 percent; air, 3.0 percent; and pipeline, 0.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail, and pipeline combined carried 84.1 percent of the value (Table 4).

Trucks carried the largest share (69.1 percent) of U.S.-Mexico freight in 2017, despite a 1.9 percentage point decrease from 2016. Also declining were rail, down 0.3 percentage points, and pipeline, down 0.1 points.  Helped by an increase in the year-over-year price of crude oil, vessel’s share grew by 1.8 percentage points. Air’s share was unchanged (Table 4).

Trucks carried 69.9 percent of the $314.0 billion of goods imported from Mexico in 2017, followed by rail, 16.5 percent; vessel, 7.8 percent; air, 2.4 percent; and pipeline, 0.1 percent. Trucks carried 68.0 percent of the $243.0 billion of goods exports to Mexico in 2017, followed by vessel, 11.6 percent; rail, 11.5 percent; air, 3.8 percent; and pipeline, 1.4 percent (Table 4).

Texas led all U.S.-Mexico Border states serving as a gateway for 70.0 percent of freight carried between the U.S. and Mexico in 2017, handling $390.1 billion. Texas ports of entry had the largest percent increase among southern border states, growing 6.9 percent over 2016 (Table 5). 

The top commodity transported between the U.S. and Mexico in 2017 was vehicles and parts at $104.8 billion, with $48.9 billion or 46.7 percent moved by truck, and $44.7 billion or 42.7 percent moved by rail (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, 2017 Annual

Mode Commodities Exports Imports Total
All Modes Vehicles and Parts 21 84 105
Truck Electrical Machinery 37 58 95
Rail Vehicles and Parts 6 39 45
Pipeline Mineral Fuels 4 0 4
Vessel Mineral Fuels 19 11 29
Air Electrical Machinery 3 2 5
Notes:

Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder as of February 2018.

Reporting Notes

BTS press releases and the BTS website define surface transportation modes as truck, rail and pipeline. See North American TransBorder Freight Data on the BTS website for additional data since 2006. The category of all modes of transportation cited in the following tables includes freight movements by truck, rail, vessel, pipeline, air, other and unknown modes of transport.            

Data in this press release are not seasonally adjusted and are not adjusted for inflation. For previous statistical releases and summary tables, see TransBorder Releases. See TransBorder Freight Data for data from previous months, and for additional state, port, and commodity data. BTS has scheduled the release of January TransBorder numbers for March 27.

Table 1. Total Value and Modal Shares of U.S.-North American Freight Flows

Mode 2016 2017 Percent Change 2016-2017
All Modes Imports $572,217.8 $614,020.4 7.3
Exports $496,919.7 $525,460.3 5.7
Total $1,069,137.6 $1,139,480.8 6.6
Share of Total by Mode (percent of total value) Percentage Point Change 2016-2017
All Surface Modes Imports 88.7 87.2 -1.5
Exports 82.1 80.9 -1.2
Total 85.6 84.3 -1.3
Truck Imports 63.3 60.2 -3.0
Exports 68.0 66.8 -1.2
Total 65.5 63.3 -2.2
Rail Imports 18.8 18.5 -0.3
Exports 11.7 11.5 -0.2
Total 15.5 15.3 -0.2
Pipeline Imports 6.6 8.4 1.8
Exports 2.4 2.6 0.2
Total 4.6 5.7 1.1
Vessel Imports 5.2 6.4 1.3
Exports 5.8 6.9 1.1
Total 5.5 6.6 1.2
Air Imports 3.1 3.1 -0.1
Exports 4.8 4.8 0.0
Total 3.9 3.8 -0.1
Notes:
Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding. Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.
The percentage of modal share for all surface modes equals the sum of the share of the truck, rail and pipeline modes.  
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder as of February 2018.

Table 2. Total Value and Modal Shares of U.S.-Canada Freight Flow

Mode 2016 2017 Percent Change 2016-2017
All Modes Imports $278,067 $299,975 7.9
Exports $265,961 $282,472 6.2
Total $544,027 $582,447 7.1
Share of Total by Mode (percent of total value) Percentage Point Change 2016-2017
All Surface Modes Imports 88.2 87.9 -0.3
Exports 81.2 80.8 -0.4
Total 84.8 84.5 -0.3
Truck Imports 53.5 50.1 -3.4
Exports 67.1 65.7 -1.3
Total 60.1 57.7 -2.4
Rail Imports 21.1 20.6 -0.6
Exports 11.2 11.5 0.4
Total 16.2 16.2 -0.1
Pipeline Imports 13.6 17.2 3.6
Exports 3.0 3.5 0.5
Total 8.4 10.6 2.2
Vessel Imports 4.1 5.0 0.9
Exports 2.5 2.8 0.3
Total 3.3 3.9 0.6
Air Imports 4.0 3.8 -0.2
Exports 5.6 5.6 0.0
Total 4.8 4.7 -0.1
Notes:
Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding. Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.
The percentage of modal share for all surface modes equals the sum of the share of the truck, rail and pipeline modes.  
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder as of February 2018.

Table 3. Flow of Goods Through States on the U.S.-Canada Border by All Modes of Transportation

State 2016 2017 Percent Change 2016 - 2017
Value Rank Value Rank
Michigan 211,909 1 222,854 1 5.2
New York 120,379 2 117,409 2 -2.5
North Dakota 35,512 3 41,019 3 15.5
Washington 32,231 4 34,419 4 6.8
Minnesota 14,370 5 17,355 5 20.8
Montana 13,982 6 16,210 6 15.9
Maine 9,436 7 10,084 7 6.9
Vermont/New Hampshire 9,099 8 9,394 8 3.2
Idaho 5,571 9 6,435 9 15.5
Alaska 923 10 1,053 10 14.2
Notes:
Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding.  
Vermont and New Hampshire data have been combined, as data for the port of entry at Beecher Falls includes three crossings, two in Vermont and one in New Hampshire.  Data only include trade between the United States and Canada.
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder as of March 2018.

Table 4. Total Value and Modal Shares of U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows

Mode 2016 2017 Percent Change 2016-2017
All Modes Imports $294,151 $314,045 6.8
Exports $230,959 $242,989 5.2
Total $525,110 $557,034 6.1
Share of Total by Mode (percent of total value) Percentage Point Change 2016-2017
All Surface Modes Imports 89.1 86.5 -2.6
Exports 83.1 81.0 -2.1
Total 86.4 84.1 -2.4
Truck Imports 72.5 69.9 -2.6
Exports 69.1 68.0 -1.1
Total 71.0 69.1 -1.9
Rail Imports 16.5 16.5 0.0
Exports 12.4 11.5 -0.8
Total 14.7 14.4 -0.3
Pipeline Imports 0.1 0.1 0.0
Exports 1.6 1.4 -0.2
Total 0.7 0.7 -0.1
Vessel Imports 6.2 7.8 1.6
Exports 9.6 11.6 2.0
Total 7.7 9.5 1.8
Air Imports 2.4 2.4 0.0
Exports 3.8 3.8 0.0
Total 3.0 3.0 0.0
Notes:

Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding. Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding.
The percentage of modal share for all surface modes equals the sum of the share of the truck, rail and pipeline modes.  

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder as of February 2018.

Table 5. Flow of Goods Through States on the U.S.-Mexico Border by All Modes of Transportation

State 2016 2017 Percent Change 2016 - 2017
Value Rank Value Rank
Texas 364,798 1 390,137 1 6.9
California 63,365 2 66,157 2 4.4
Arizona 30,221 3 27,949 3 -7.5
New Mexico 22,861 4 22,277 4 -2.6
Notes:
Percent change based on numbers prior to rounding.  
Data only include trade between the United States and Mexico.
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://www.bts.gov/transborder as of March 2018.