Transportation Services Index

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June 2017 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Release Number: 
BTS 40-17
Date: 
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, fell 0.8 percent in June from May. The seasonally adjusted index fell after reaching an all-time high in May, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The June 2017 index level (126.2) was 33.3 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

(Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)
View Table Data
MonthFreight TSI
Jun-12113.5
Jul-12113.3
Aug-12112.6
Sep-12112.0
Oct-12110.2
Nov-12112.1
Dec-12112.2
Jan-13114.1
Feb-13115.7
Mar-13115.8
Apr-13114.7
May-13115.8
Jun-13116.3
Jul-13115.9
Aug-13116.6
Sep-13116.6
Oct-13116.4
Nov-13119.0
Dec-13117.9
Jan-14115.6
Feb-14117.8
Mar-14119.5
Apr-14120.0
May-14120.5
Jun-14119.6
Jul-14120.5
Aug-14121.2
Sep-14121.3
Oct-14122.2
Nov-14123.4
Dec-14123.1
Jan-15122.6
Feb-15121.6
Mar-15123.1
Apr-15121.8
May-15122.3
Jun-15121.9
Jul-15122.8
Aug-15122.9
Sep-15122.3
Oct-15123.0
Nov-15120.9
Dec-15120.9
Jan-16122.3
Feb-16121.3
Mar-16120.4
Apr-16121.8
May-16121.7
Jun-16122.6
Jul-16125.2
Aug-16122.4
Sep-16121.0
Oct-16122.8
Nov-16123.4
Dec-16124.6
Jan-17124.2
Feb-17126.1
Mar-17124.4
Apr-17124.2
May-17127.2
Jun-17126.2
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The May index was revised to 127.2 from 126.8 in last month’s release and remains an all-time high. Monthly numbers for January through April remained virtually unchanged. BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight. The TSI is seasonally-adjusted to remove regular seasons from month-to-month comparisons.

Analysis: In June, the Freight TSI declined by 0.8 percent from the previous month due to significant decreases in trucking and water while air freight and rail carloads and intermodal grew. Pipeline remained steady. The increase ran counter to mostly rising trends in other economic indicators. Employment, housing starts and personal income grew. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index rose by 0.4 percent in June, due to growth in manufacturing and mining. The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index rose to 57.8, indicating accelerating growth. 

While the monthly TSI declined, the quarterly TSI covering a three-month period rose. The 1.4 percent second quarter growth in the freight TSI was consistent with the accelerating pace of GDP growth, which reached 2.6 percent in second quarter 2017, up from 1.4 percent growth in the first quarter.

Trend: The 0.8 percent decline of Freight TSI in June brought TSI down from its record high in May but left it at the second highest level of all time, exceeding the level of April by 1.6 percent. It exceeded the highest level reached before May, in February 2017, by 0.1 percent.  While there have thus far been four months when TSI declined in 2017, and only two months when it increased, the net increase so far in 2017 has been 1.3 per cent because of the large increase in May.

After a decline in the first quarter of 2017, Freight TSI grew by 1.4 percent in the second quarter.  Since the beginning of 2015, the Freight TSI has not increased in two consecutive quarters, following the period from the 4th quarter of 2012 to the 4th quarter of 2014 when it increased every quarter. The index remains high compared to earlier years, rising 33.3 percent since the low of 94.7 in April 2009. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: For-hire freight shipments in June 2017 (126.2) were 33.3 percent higher than the low in April 2009 during the recession (94.7). The June 2017 level was 0.8 percent below the historic peak reached in May 2017 (127.2).

Year to date: For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 1.3 percent in June compared to the end of 2016 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: For-hire freight shipments are up 11.2 percent in the five years from June 2012 and are up 15.0 percent in the 10 years from June 2007 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: June 2017 for-hire freight shipments were up 2.9 percent from June 2016 (Tables 4, 5).

2nd quarter changes: The freight TSI rose 1.4 percent in the 2nd quarter following a decline of 0.2 percent in the 1st quarter (Table 10).  

The TSI has three seasonally adjusted indexes that measure changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. The three indexes are freight shipments, passenger travel and a combined measure that merges the freight and passenger indexes. See Seasonally-Adjusted Transportation Data for numbers for individual modes. TSI includes data from 2000 to the present. Release of the July 2017 index is scheduled for Sept. 13.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 0.5 percent in June from its May level (Table 6).  The Passenger TSI June 2017 level of 126.8 was 0.9 percent above the June 2016 level (Table 7). The index is up 10.1 percent in five years and up 8.7 percent in 10 years (Table 5).  The passenger TSI measures the month-to-month changes in travel that involves the services of the for-hire passenger transportation sector. The seasonally adjusted index consists of data from air, local transit and intercity rail.

Combined Index: The combined freight and passenger TSI fell 0.3 percent in June from its May level (Table 8). The combined TSI June 2017 level of 126.5 was 2.3 percent above the June 2016 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 10.9 percent in five years and up 12.9 percent in 10 years (Table 5). The combined TSI merges the freight and passenger indexes into a single index.

Revisions: Monthly data has changed from previous releases due to the use of concurrent seasonal analysis, which results in seasonal analysis factors changing as each month’s data are added.    

BTS research has shown a clear relationship between economic cycles and the Freight and Passenger Transportation Services Indexes. See a study of this relationship using smoothed and detrended TSI data. Researchers who wish to compare TSI over time with other economic indicators, can use the FRED database, which includes freight, passenger  and combined TSI, and which makes it possible to easily graph TSI alongside the other series in that database. See TSI data on FRED.   

For a webinar on the TSI, see Past Webinars. For a video explanation of the TSI, see Overview of the Transportation Services Index. A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

Percent Change from Previous Month, (Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly Average of 2000 = 100)
View Table Data
FreightPassengerCombined
IndexPct. Change IndexPct. Change IndexPct. Change
December124.61.0124.90.2124.80.7
January124.2-0.3125.30.3124.6-0.2
February126.11.5123.5-1.4125.40.6
March124.4-1.3124.91.1124.6-0.6
April124.2-0.2126.41.2125.00.3
May127.22.4126.2-0.2126.91.5
June126.2-0.8126.80.5126.5-0.3
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

View Table Data
YearMonthPeakMonthBottom
2009December101.6April94.7
2013November119.0January114.1
2014November123.4January115.6
2015December123.1November120.9
2016July125.2March120.4
2017(thru June)May127.2January124.2
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from previous month
View Table Data
2014201520162017
% Change% Change% Change% Change
January-2.0-0.41.2-0.3
February1.9-0.8-0.81.5
March1.41.2-0.7-1.3
April0.4-1.11.2-0.2
May0.40.4-0.12.4
June-0.7-0.30.7-0.8
July0.80.72.1
August0.60.1-2.2
September0.1-0.5-1.1
October0.70.61.5
November1.0-1.70.5
December-0.20.01.0
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

View Table Data
2014201520162017
January115.6122.6122.3124.2
February117.8121.6121.3126.1
March119.5123.1120.4124.4
April120.0121.8121.8124.2
May120.5122.3121.7127.2
June119.6121.9122.6126.2
July120.5122.8125.2
August121.2122.9122.4
September121.3122.3121.0
October122.2123.0122.8
November123.4120.9123.4
December123.1120.9124.6
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change to June from December of the previous year
View Table Data
YearFreightPassengerCombined
2008-0.70.1-0.5
2009-4.3-1.7-3.5
20104.81.43.8
20111.41.01.3
2012-1.4-0.3-1.0
20133.71.63.0
20141.41.41.4
2015-1.01.2-0.3
20161.41.11.3
20171.31.51.4
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in the June Freight TSI, (Monthly average of 2000 = 100)
View Table Data
June Freight TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2008109.90.2
200996.1-12.6
2010106.510.8
2011110.23.5
2012113.53.0
2013116.32.5
2014119.62.8
2015121.91.9
2016122.60.6
2017126.22.9
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent Change to 2017 (June to June)
View Table Data
Since June . . .Duration in yearsFreight TSI Percent change to June 2017Passenger TSI Percent change to June 2017Combined TSI Percent change to June 2017
201612.90.92.3
201523.53.83.6
201435.56.15.7
201348.57.78.3
2012511.210.110.9
2011614.511.013.5
2010718.513.316.9
2009831.316.926.8
2008914.88.912.9
20071015.08.712.9
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from previous month
View Table Data
2014201520162017
% Change% Change% Change% Change
January0.0-0.6-0.70.3
February0.1-0.91.0-1.4
March1.71.9-1.81.1
April-0.20.21.21.2
May0.60.20.3-0.2
June-0.70.41.10.5
July0.22.1-0.6
August0.5-1.9-1.7
September-0.20.41.8
October0.31.3-1.1
November-0.6-0.80.8
December0.80.60.2
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in the June Passenger TSI, (Monthly average of 2000 = 100)
View Table Data
June Passenger TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2008116.4-0.3
2009108.5-6.8
2010111.93.1
2011114.22.1
2012115.20.9
2013117.72.2
2014119.51.5
2015122.22.3
2016125.72.9
2017126.80.9
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from previous month
View Table Data
2014201520162017
% Change% Change% Change% Change
January-1.4-0.50.5-0.2
February1.3-0.9-0.20.6
March1.51.5-1.1-0.6
April0.3-0.71.20.3
May0.40.40.01.5
June-0.7-0.10.9-0.3
July0.51.11.2
August0.6-0.5-2.1
September0.0-0.2-0.2
October0.60.80.7
November0.5-1.50.6
December0.20.20.7
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change in the June Combined TSI, (Monthly average of 2000 = 100)
View Table Data
June Combined TSIPercent change from same month previous year
2008112.00.0
200999.8-10.9
2010108.28.4
2011111.53.0
2012114.12.3
2013116.82.4
2014119.72.5
2015122.12.0
2016123.71.3
2017126.52.3
Notes: 

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter
View Table Data
Year1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2008-0.90.2-2.3-6.5
2009-4.60.33.62.0
20103.71.00.71.4
20112.0-0.61.23.2
2012-3.01.6-1.30.2
20133.20.40.31.1
20141.40.11.41.5
20150.0-1.00.3-1.1
2016-0.41.8-1.33.0
2017-0.21.4
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter
View Table Data
Year1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
20080.4-0.3-3.7-1.5
2009-1.70.00.90.8
20100.31.11.2-0.1
20110.40.60.80.4
20120.3-0.70.40.2
20130.31.3-0.30.4
20141.8-0.30.40.6
20150.40.80.61.1
2016-1.52.7-0.6-0.1
20170.01.5
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Percent change from the last month of the previous quarter
View Table Data
Year1st Quarter (Jan-Mar) % Growth2nd Quarter (Apr-Jun) % Growth3rd Quarter (Jul-Sep) % Growth4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) % Growth
2008-0.50.0-2.7-5.1
2009-3.70.22.81.6
20102.81.00.71.0
20111.5-0.21.02.4
2012-1.90.9-0.80.2
20132.30.70.10.9
20141.40.01.11.2
20150.1-0.40.4-0.4
2016-0.82.1-1.12.0
2017-0.21.5
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Brief Explanation of the TSI           

The Transportation Services Index (TSI) is a measure of the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire transportation industries.  The freight index measure changes in freight shipments while the passenger index measures changes in passenger travel.

The TSI tells us how the output of transportation services has increased or decreased from month to month. The index can be examined together with other economic indicators to produce a better understanding of the current and future course of the economy.   The movement of the index over time can be compared with other economic measures to understand the relationship of changes in transportation output to changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).           

The freight transportation index consists of:

For-hire trucking,
Railroad freight services (including rail based intermodal shipments such as containers on flat cars),
Inland waterways transportation,Pipeline transportation (including principally petroleum and petroleum products and natural gas), and
Air freight.

The index does not include international or coastal waterborne movements, private trucking, courier services, or the US Postal Service.

The passenger transportation index consists of:

Local transit,
Intercity passenger rail, and
Passenger air transportation.

The index does not include intercity bus, sightseeing services, ferry services, taxi service, private automobile usage, or bicycling and other non-motorized transportation.

The TSI includes only domestic "for-hire" freight and passenger transportation. For-hire transportation consists of freight or passenger transport services provided by a firm to external customers for a fee. The TSI does not include taxi services, paid ride services in personal motor vehicles (e.g., Uber, Lyft, etc.), intercity bus services, in-house transportation (vehicles owned and operated by private firms for their own use), or noncommercial passenger travel (e.g., trips in the household car).