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.

Site Notification

Site Notification

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

October 2018 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
 

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 2.0 percent in October from September, rising for the second consecutive month to reach a new all-time high, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The October 2018 index level (138.8) was 46.4 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

Freight Transportation Services Index, October 2013 - October 2018

Month Freight TSI 1
Oct-13 116.5 2
Nov-13 118.9 3
Dec-13 117.7 4
Jan-14 116.0 5
Feb-14 117.8 6
Mar-14 119.9 7
Apr-14 120.5 8
May-14 120.9 9
Jun-14 119.7 10
Jul-14 120.5 11
Aug-14 120.8 12
Sep-14 121.9 13
Oct-14 122.5 14
Nov-14 123.3 15
Dec-14 123.1 16
Jan-15 122.7 17
Feb-15 121.5 18
Mar-15 122.6 19
Apr-15 121.5 20
May-15 121.8 21
Jun-15 121.3 22
Jul-15 122.3 23
Aug-15 123.0 24
Sep-15 123.0 25
Oct-15 122.5 26
Nov-15 120.9 27
Dec-15 120.3 28
Jan-16 121.8 29
Feb-16 121.5 30
Mar-16 120.2 31
Apr-16 122.3 32
May-16 121.7 33
Jun-16 122.3 34
Jul-16 125.2 35
Aug-16 122.9 36
Sep-16 121.6 37
Oct-16 122.7 38
Nov-16 123.3 39
Dec-16 123.9 40
Jan-17 123.5 41
Feb-17 124.3 42
Mar-17 124.3 43
Apr-17 124.8 44
May-17 125.0 45
Jun-17 125.2 46
Jul-17 127.6 47
Aug-17 128.3 48
Sep-17 127.4 49
Oct-17 129.3 50
Nov-17 131.4 51
Dec-17 132.3 52
Jan-18 130.0 53
Feb-18 132.7 54
Mar-18 134.6 55
Apr-18 134.5 56
May-18 135.8 57
Jun-18 136.3 58
Jul-18 135.3 59
Aug-18 135.3 60
Sep-18 136.1 61
Oct-18 138.8 62
63
Source:

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The Freight TSI (138.8) reached a new all-time high – 1.8 percent above the previous all-time high reached in June 2018 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. See historical TSI data.

The September index was revised to 136.1 from 134.9 in last month’s release. Monthly numbers for April through July were revised up slightly. January and February were revised down slightly.

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 seasonal change from month-to-month comparisons.

Analysis: The Freight TSI October increase of 2.0 percent was driven by significant growth in trucking and water, while pipeline, air freight, rail carload, and rail intermodal decreased modestly. The TSI increase took place against a background of mixed results for other indicators. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index rose by 0.1 percent in October, with an increase in manufacturing but decreases in mining and utilities. Personal income grew, but housing starts declined. The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index declined to 57.7, indicating continued but decelerating growth. 

Trend: The 2.0 percent increase in Freight TSI in October combined with an increase in the previous month produced a two-month rise of 2.6 from August to October. The two-month increase pushed the index to 1.8 percent above its previous record high of 136.3 in June 2018. TSI has now had five record highs in 2018, and has been above the February all-time high of 132.7 in every subsequent month.  The increase from September to October was the largest monthly rise since February and the third largest monthly increase since November 2013. The 4.9 percent growth from the end of 2017 to October was the largest increase during the first 10 months of the year since 2010. The October index was 46.4 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession. For additional historical data, go to TSI data.

Index highs and lows: For-hire freight shipments in October 2018 (138.8) were 46.4 percent higher than the low in April 2009 during the recession (94.8). The October 2018 level reached its all-time high (Table 1A).

Year-to-date: For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 4.9 percent in October compared to the end of 2017 (Table 3).

Long-term trend: For-hire freight shipments are up 19.1 percent in the five years from October 2013 and are up 29.2 percent in the 10 years from October 2008 (Table 5). 

Same month of previous year: October 2018 for-hire freight shipments were up 7.3 percent from October 2017 (Tables 4, 5).

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 November 2018 index is scheduled for Jan. 9.

Passenger Index: The TSI for passengers rose 1.3 percent in October from its September level (Table 6). The Passenger TSI October 2018 level of 129.6 was 1.5 percent above the October 2017 level (Table 7). The index is up 10.4 percent in five years and up 15.1 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 rose 1.8 percent in October from its September level (Table 8). The combined TSI October 2018 level of 135.8 was 5.4 percent above the October 2017 level (Table 9). The combined index is up 16.2 percent in five years and up 24.4 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.   

A BTS report explaining the TSI, Transportation Services Index and the Economy, is available for download.

Table 1: Freight, Passenger and Combined Transportation Services Indexes Since April 2018

Freight Passenger Combined 1
Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change Index Pct. Change 2
April 134.5 -0.1 129.6 0.7 133.0 0.2 3
May 135.8 1.0 130.5 0.7 134.1 0.8 4
June 136.3 0.4 131.6 0.8 134.8 0.5 5
July 135.3 -0.7 131.4 -0.2 134.0 -0.6 6
August 135.3 0.0 130.8 -0.5 133.8 -0.1 7
September 136.1 0.6 127.9 -2.2 133.4 -0.3 8
October 138.8 2.0 129.6 1.3 135.8 1.8 9
10
Notes:

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 2: Freight Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2015-2018, Oct 2018

2015 2016 2017 2018 1
% Change % Change % Change % Change 2
January -0.3 1.2 -0.3 -1.7 3
February -1.0 -0.2 0.6 2.1 4
March 0.9 -1.1 0.0 1.4 5
April -0.9 1.7 0.4 -0.1 6
May 0.2 -0.5 0.2 1.0 7
June -0.4 0.5 0.2 0.4 8
July 0.8 2.4 1.9 -0.7 9
August 0.6 -1.8 0.5 0.0 10
September 0.0 -1.1 -0.7 0.6 11
October -0.4 0.9 1.5 2.0 12
November -1.3 0.5 1.6 13
December -0.5 0.5 0.7 14
15
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 2A: Freight Transportation Services Index by Month, 2015-2018, Oct 2018

2015 2016 2017 2018 1
January 122.7 121.8 123.5 130.0 2
February 121.5 121.5 124.3 132.7 3
March 122.6 120.2 124.3 134.6 4
April 121.5 122.3 124.8 134.5 5
May 121.8 121.7 125.0 135.8 6
June 121.3 122.3 125.2 136.3 7
July 122.3 125.2 127.6 135.3 8
August 123.0 122.9 128.3 135.3 9
September 123.0 121.6 127.4 136.1 10
October 122.5 122.7 129.3 138.8 11
November 120.9 123.3 131.4 12
December 120.3 123.9 132.3 13
14
Source:
Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 4: Freight Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year, Oct 2018

October Freight TSI Percent change from same month previous year 1
2009 98.5 -8.3 2
2010 107.9 9.5 3
2011 111.6 3.4 4
2012 110.3 -1.2 5
2013 116.5 5.6 6
2014 122.5 5.2 7
2015 122.5 0.0 8
2016 122.7 0.2 9
2017 129.3 5.4 10
2018 138.8 7.3 11
12
Notes:

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 5: Transportation Services Indexes from Previous Year, Oct 2018

Since October . . . Duration in years Freight TSI Percent change to October 2018 Passenger TSI Percent change to October 2018 Combined TSI Percent change to October 2018 1
2017 1 7.3 1.5 5.4 2
2016 2 13.1 4.7 10.3 3
2015 3 13.3 4.0 10.1 4
2014 4 13.3 7.8 11.4 5
2013 5 19.1 10.4 16.2 6
2012 6 25.8 14.4 22.0 7
2011 7 24.4 12.5 20.5 8
2010 8 28.6 12.9 23.5 9
2009 9 40.9 17.9 33.3 10
2008 10 29.2 15.1 24.4 11
12
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 6: Passenger Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2015-2018, Oct 2018

2015 2016 2017 2018 1
% Change % Change % Change % Change 2
January -0.5 -0.6 0.5 -0.7 3
February -0.6 1.5 -1.0 1.4 4
March 1.6 -2.3 0.8 0.2 5
April 0.1 1.2 1.0 0.7 6
May 0.2 0.2 -0.2 0.7 7
June 0.1 0.6 0.3 0.8 8
July 2.1 -0.5 0.2 -0.2 9
August -1.4 -1.0 -0.3 -0.5 10
September 0.3 1.9 -2.2 -2.2 11
October 1.2 -1.4 3.0 1.3 12
November -0.9 0.8 0.5 13
December 0.8 0.5 -0.6 14
15
Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 7: Passenger Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year, Oct 2018

October Passenger TSI Percent change from same month previous year 1
2009 109.9 -2.4 2
2010 114.8 4.5 3
2011 115.2 0.3 4
2012 113.3 -1.6 5
2013 117.4 3.6 6
2014 120.2 2.4 7
2015 124.6 3.7 8
2016 123.8 -0.6 9
2017 127.7 3.2 10
2018 129.6 1.5 11
12
Notes:

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

Source:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 8: Combined Transportation Services Index Monthly Changes, 2015-2018, Oct 2018

2015 2016 2017 2018 1
% Change % Change % Change % Change 2
January -0.4 0.6 -0.1 -1.5 3
February -0.9 0.3 0.1 1.9 4
March 1.2 -1.5 0.2 1.1 5
April -0.6 1.6 0.6 0.2 6
May 0.2 -0.2 0.0 0.8 7
June -0.2 0.5 0.2 0.5 8
July 1.3 1.4 1.3 -0.6 9
August -0.1 -1.5 0.2 -0.1 10
September 0.1 -0.1 -1.2 -0.3 11
October 0.2 0.1 2.1 1.8 12
November -1.2 0.6 1.2 13
December 0.0 0.5 0.3 14
15
Source:

ureau of Transportation Statistics

Table 9: Combined Transportation Services Index from Year-to-Year, Oct 2018

October Combined TSI Percent change from same month previous year 1
2009 101.9 -6.7 2
2010 110.0 7.9 3
2011 112.7 2.5 4
2012 111.3 -1.2 5
2013 116.9 5.0 6
2014 121.9 4.3 7
2015 123.3 1.1 8
2016 123.1 -0.2 9
2017 128.9 4.7 10
2018 135.8 5.4 11
12
Notes:

Percent changes based on numbers prior to rounding.

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).