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

April 2017 North American Freight Numbers

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Figure 1. U.S.-NAFTA Freight Value Percent Change from Previous Year, April 2017

Figure 1. U.S.-NAFTA Freight Value Percent Change from Previous Year (Last 24 months)
04/2015 -6.8
05/2015 -10.8
06/2015 -3.8
07/2015 -8.0
08/2015 -8.1
09/2015 -8.8
10/2015 -10.7
11/2015 -8.4
12/2015 -9.5
01/2016 -7.7
02/2016 -2.0
03/2016 -5.8
04/2016 -3.2
05/2016 -3.1
06/2016 -6.4
07/2016 -10.0
08/2016 0.7
09/2016 -2.3
10/2016 -3.6
11/2016 3.3
12/2016 0.4
01/2017 6.7
02/2017 2.9
03/2017 10.9
04/2017 0.8
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/

Download Excel Tables

U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $91.1 billion in current dollars as three major transportation modes carried more freight by value with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in April 2017 compared to April 2016, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 2, Table 1).

The 0.8 percent rise from April 2016 is the sixth consecutive month in which the year-over-year value of U.S.-NAFTA freight increased from the same month of the previous year (Figure 1). 

Freight by Mode

The value of commodities moving by pipeline increased 63.5 percent, vessel by 27.8 percent, and rail by 5.8 percent. Freight moved by air decreased by 2.1 percent, and truck decreased by 5.5 percent (Figure 2, Table 2). The large percentage increase in the value of goods moving by pipeline and vessel is due in part to a 25 percent increase in the year-over-year price of crude oil between April 2016 and April 2017.

Trucks carried 62.6 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 $29.4 billion of the $49.5 billion of imports (59.5 percent) and $27.6 billion of the $41.6 billion of exports (66.3 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 16.4 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 6.3 percent; pipeline, 5.9 percent; and air, 3.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.9 percent of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows (Table 2).

U.S.-Canada Freight

From April 2016 to April 2017, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased by 2.5 percent to $47.0 billion as the value of freight on three major modes increased from a year earlier. The value of freight carried on pipeline increased by 67.1 percent, vessel by 13.8 percent, and rail by 6.4 percent. Truck decreased by 2.8 percent, and air decreased by 7.2 percent. The increase in the value of commodities moved by pipeline and vessel reflects the increased value of mineral fuels year over year (Figure 3, Table 3).

Trucks carried 57.6 percent of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 17.7 percent followed by pipeline, 10.9 percent; air, 4.3 percent; and vessel, 3.5 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.2 percent of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows (Table 3).

U.S.-Mexico Freight

From April 2016 to April 2017, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows decreased by 1.0 percent to $44.0 billion even as the value of freight on four major modes increased from a year earlier. The value of commodities moved by vessel increased by 34.5 percent, pipeline by 19.7 percent, air by 7.1 percent, and rail by 5.1 percent. Truck, which carries the largest share of U.S.-Mexico freight, decreased by 7.8 percent. The decrease in U.S.-Mexico freight by truck was primarily due to a 19.3 percent drop in the value of computers and parts. The increase in the value of commodities moved by vessel reflects the increased value of mineral fuels year over year (Figure 4, Table 4).

Trucks carried 67.9 percent of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 15.0 percent followed by vessel, 9.3 percent; air, 3.0 percent; and pipeline, 0.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.6 percent of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities

In April 2017, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, of which $4.8 billion, or 53.7 percent, moved by truck and $3.9 billion, or 43.8 percent, moved by rail (Figure 5). The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in April 2017 was also vehicles and parts, of which $3.7 billion or 44.4 percent moved by truck and $3.7 billion or 44.0 percent moved by rail  (Figure 6).

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 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, other 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 TransBorder Indexed Freight Flow Data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indexes used in the adjustments for inflation and exchange rates might be revised in each of the three months after original publication. 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 May TransBorder numbers for July 27.

Table 1. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows, April 2017

Month 2015 2016 2017 Percent Change 2015-2016 Percent Change 2016-2017
January 89,258 82,430 87,960 -7.7 6.7
February 85,723 84,038 86,474 -2.0 2.9
March 96,070 90,462 100,289 -5.8 10.9
April 93,327 90,380 91,068 -3.2 0.8
May 92,707 89,840 -3.1
June 99,030 92,671 -6.4
July 92,995 83,725 -10.0
August 92,442 93,126 0.7
September 93,246 91,126 -2.3
October 96,624 93,165 -3.6
November 88,154 91,089 3.3
December 86,748 87,086 0.4
Year-to-date 364,379 347,309 365,791 -4.7 5.3
Annual 1,106,325 1,069,138 -3.4
Notes:

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

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/

Table 2. Value of Monthly U.S.-NAFTA Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation, April 2017

Mode April 2016 April 2017 Percent Change April 2016-2017
All Modes Imports 47,611 49,491 3.9
Exports 42,769 41,576 -2.8
Total 90,380 91,068 0.8
All Surface Modes Imports 42,466 43,367 2.1
Exports 35,295 33,988 -3.7
Total 77,761 77,355 -0.5
Truck Imports 31,357 29,439 -6.1
Exports 28,991 27,579 -4.9
Total 60,348 57,018 -5.5
Rail Imports 8,637 9,763 13.0
Exports 5,462 5,157 -5.6
Total 14,099 14,920 5.8
Pipeline Imports 2,471 4,165 68.5
Exports 842 1,252 48.6
Total 3,313 5,416 63.5
Vessel Imports 2,341 3,209 37.1
Exports 2,147 2,527 17.7
Total 4,488 5,736 27.8
Air Imports 1,464 1,395 -4.7
Exports 1,929 1,927 -0.1
Total 3,393 3,322 -2.1
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: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/

Table 3. Value of Monthly U.S.-Canada Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation, April 2017

Mode April 2016 April 2017 Percent Change April 2016-2017
All Modes Imports 22,513 24,334 8.1
Exports 23,384 22,713 -2.9
Total 45,897 47,046 2.5
All Surface Modes Imports 19,866 21,684 9.1
Exports 18,903 18,848 -0.3
Total 38,770 40,532 4.5
Truck Imports 12,426 12,058 -3.0
Exports 15,469 15,048 -2.7
Total 27,895 27,107 -2.8
Rail Imports 4,989 5,472 9.7
Exports 2,827 2,843 0.5
Total 7,817 8,315 6.4
Pipeline Imports 2,451 4,154 69.5
Exports 607 957 57.7
Total 3,058 5,111 67.1
Vessel Imports 994 1,212 22.0
Exports 447 427 -4.5
Total 1,441 1,639 13.8
Air Imports 890 806 -9.4
Exports 1,287 1,213 -5.7
Total 2,177 2,019 -7.2
Notes:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/

Source:

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: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

Figure 5. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Canada for Each Mode of Transportation, April 2017

Mode Commodities Exports Imports Total
All Modes Vehicles and Parts 4.2 4.7 8.9
Truck Vehicles and Parts 2.5 2.3 4.8
Rail Vehicles and Parts 1.5 2.4 3.9
Pipeline Mineral Fuels 0.9 4.1 5.1
Vessel Mineral Fuels 0.3 0.9 1.2
Air Electrical Machinery 0.2 0.2 0.4
Notes:

Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

Source:

 Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/

Table 4. Value of Monthly U.S.-Mexico Freight Flows by Mode of Transportation, April 2017

Mode April 2016 April 2017 Percent Change April 2016-2017
All Modes Imports 25,098 25,158 0.2
Exports 19,385 18,864 -2.7
Total 44,483 44,021 -1.0
All Surface Modes Imports 22,599 21,683 -4.1
Exports 16,392 15,139 -7.6
Total 38,992 36,822 -5.6
Truck Imports 18,931 17,381 -8.2
Exports 13,523 12,531 -7.3
Total 32,454 29,911 -7.8
Rail Imports 3,648 4,291 17.6
Exports 2,634 2,314 -12.2
Total 6,283 6,605 5.1
Pipeline Imports 20 11 -44.4
Exports 235 294 25.2
Total 255 306 19.7
Vessel Imports 1,347 1,996 48.2
Exports 1,700 2,101 23.6
Total 3,047 4,097 34.5
Air Imports 574 589 2.6
Exports 643 714 11.1
Total 1,217 1,303 7.1
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: http://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_DataFields.html.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/

Figure 6. Top Commodity Transported between the U.S. and Mexico for Each Mode of Transportation, March 2017

Mode Commodities Exports Imports Total
All Modes Vehicles and Parts 1.9 7.8 9.6
Truck Electrical Machinery 3.3 5.0 8.3
Rail Vehicles and Parts 0.5 3.9 4.4
Pipeline Mineral Fuels 0.3 0.0 0.3
Vessel Mineral Fuels 1.1 0.8 1.9
Air Electrical Machinery 0.3 0.2 0.5
Notes:

Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/