North American Transborder Freight Data

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2017 North American Freight Numbers

Release Number: 
BTS 13-18
(billions of current dollars)
Mode20162017Percent Change between 2016-2017
Truck7007213.0
Rail1661745.2
Pipeline506531.3
Air42445.3
Vessel587629.6
Total1,0691,1396.6
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.

(billions of current dollars)
Mode2017
Truck721
Rail174
Pipeline65
Air44
Vessel76
Other60
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).

(billions of current dollars)
ModeCommoditiesExportsImportsTotal
All Modes Vehicles and Parts5156107
Truck Vehicles and Parts312961
Rail Vehicles and Parts182644
Pipeline Mineral Fuels105161
Vessel Mineral Fuels61117
Air Electrical Machinery425
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).

(billions of current dollars)
ModeCommoditiesExportsImportsTotal
All Modes Vehicles and Parts2184105
Truck Electrical Machinery375895
Rail Vehicles and Parts63945
Pipeline Mineral Fuels404
Vessel Mineral Fuels191129
Air Electrical Machinery325
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.

Freight by All Modes, (millions of current dollars)
Mode20162017Percent Change 2016-2017
All ModesImports $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 ModesImports88.787.2-1.5
Exports82.180.9-1.2
Total85.684.3-1.3
TruckImports63.360.2-3.0
Exports68.066.8-1.2
Total65.563.3-2.2
RailImports18.818.5-0.3
Exports11.711.5-0.2
Total15.515.3-0.2
PipelineImports6.68.41.8
Exports2.42.60.2
Total4.65.71.1
VesselImports5.26.41.3
Exports5.86.91.1
Total5.56.61.2
AirImports3.13.1-0.1
Exports4.84.80.0
Total3.93.8-0.1
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.

Freight by All Modes, (millions of current dollars)
Mode20162017Percent Change 2016-2017
All ModesImports $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 ModesImports88.287.9-0.3
Exports81.280.8-0.4
Total84.884.5-0.3
TruckImports53.550.1-3.4
Exports67.165.7-1.3
Total60.157.7-2.4
RailImports21.120.6-0.6
Exports11.211.50.4
Total16.216.2-0.1
PipelineImports13.617.23.6
Exports3.03.50.5
Total8.410.62.2
VesselImports4.15.00.9
Exports2.52.80.3
Total3.33.90.6
AirImports4.03.8-0.2
Exports5.65.60.0
Total4.84.7-0.1
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.

Ranked by 2017 Value, (millions of current dollars)
State20162017Percent Change 2016 - 2017
ValueRankValueRank
Michigan211,9091222,85415.2
New York120,3792117,4092-2.5
North Dakota35,512341,019315.5
Washington32,231434,41946.8
Minnesota14,370517,355520.8
Montana13,982616,210615.9
Maine9,436710,08476.9
Vermont/New Hampshire9,09989,39483.2
Idaho5,57196,435915.5
Alaska923101,0531014.2
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.

Freight by All Modes, (millions of current dollars)
Mode20162017Percent Change 2016-2017
All ModesImports $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 ModesImports89.186.5-2.6
Exports83.181.0-2.1
Total86.484.1-2.4
TruckImports72.569.9-2.6
Exports69.168.0-1.1
Total71.069.1-1.9
RailImports16.516.50.0
Exports12.411.5-0.8
Total14.714.4-0.3
PipelineImports0.10.10.0
Exports1.61.4-0.2
Total0.70.7-0.1
VesselImports6.27.81.6
Exports9.611.62.0
Total7.79.51.8
AirImports2.42.40.0
Exports3.83.80.0
Total3.03.00.0
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.

Ranked by 2017 Value, (millions of current dollars)
State20162017Percent Change 2016 - 2017
ValueRankValueRank
Texas364,7981390,13716.9
California63,365266,15724.4
Arizona30,221327,9493-7.5
New Mexico22,861422,2774-2.6
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.