North American Transborder Freight Data

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September 2017 North American Freight Numbers

Release Number: 
BTS 57-17
Date: 
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
(Last 24 months)
Figure 1. U.S.-NAFTA Freight Value Percent Change from Previous Year (Last 24 months)
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
08/20160.7
09/2016-2.3
10/2016-3.6
11/20163.3
12/20160.4
01/20176.7
02/20172.9
03/201710.9
04/20170.8
05/20179.4
06/20177.7
07/20176.5
08/20174.6
09/20173.6
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html

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U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $94.4 billion as three out of five major transportation modes carried more freight by value with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in September 2017 compared to September 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 3.6 percent rise from September 2016 is the 11th consecutive month in which the year-over-year value in current dollars of U.S.-NAFTA freight increased from the same month of the previous year (Figure 1).

Freight by Mode

ModePercent Change
Truck2.9
Rail-3.3
Pipeline9.1
Vessel28.6
Air-3.4
All Modes3.6
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html

The value of commodities moving by vessel increased 28.6 percent, pipeline by 9.1 percent, and truck by 2.9 percent. Rail decreased by 3.3 percent and air decreased by 3.4 percent (Figure 2, Table 2). The large percentage increase in the value of goods moving by vessel is due in part to an increase in the unit value and a 6.1 percent increase in the volume of mineral fuels traded.

Trucks carried 64.3 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continued to be the most utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $31.0 billion of the $50.2 billion of imports (61.8 percent) and $29.7 billion of the $44.2 billion of exports (67.2 percent) (Table 2).

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 14.9 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 6.7 percent; pipeline, 5.2 percent; and air, 3.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.4 percent of the total value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows (Table 2).

U.S.-Canada Freight

ModePercent Change
Truck3.1
Rail2.4
Pipeline11.1
Vessel52.4
Air-5.0
All Modes5.0
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html

Comparing September 2016 to September 2017, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased by 5.0 percent to $48.5 billion as the value of freight on four major modes increased from a year earlier. The value of freight carried on vessel increased by 52.4 percent due in part to an increase in the unit value and a 23.9 percent increase in the volume of mineral fuels traded. Pipeline increased by 11.1 percent, truck by 3.1 percent, and rail by 2.4 percent. Air decreased by 5.0 percent due to a notable decrease of 13.5 percent in the value of pearls and stones transported (Figure 3, Table 3).

Trucks carried 58.6 percent of the value of the freight to and from Canada. Rail carried 16.0 percent followed by pipeline, 9.5 percent; air, 4.6 percent; and vessel, 4.3 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.1 percent of the value of total U.S.-Canada freight flows (Table 3).

U.S.-Mexico Freight

ModePercent Change
Truck2.8
Rail-9.6
Pipeline-15.9
Vessel19.4
Air-0.6
All Modes2.1
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html

Comparing September 2016 to September 2017, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased by 2.1 percent to $45.9 billion as the value of freight on two major modes increased from a year earlier. The value of commodities moved by vessel increased by 19.4 percent, and truck by 2.8 percent. Air decreased by 0.6 percent, rail by 9.6 percent, and pipeline by 15.9 percent due primarily to decreases in the volumes of mineral fuels exported (Figure 4, Table 4).

Trucks carried 70.4 percent of the value of freight to and from Mexico. Rail carried 13.6 percent followed by vessel, 9.2 percent; air, 3.0 percent; and pipeline, 0.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.6 percent of the value of total U.S.-Mexico freight flows (Table 4).

Commodities

In September 2017, the top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was vehicles and parts, of which $5.2 billion, or 57.1 percent, moved by truck and $3.6 billion, or 40.3 percent by rail (Figure 5). The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in September 2017 was electrical machinery, of which $8.1 billion, or 92.0 percent, moved by truck and $0.5 billion, or 5.5 percent, moved by air (Figure 6).

(billions of current dollars)
ModeCommoditiesExportsImportsTotal
All Modes Vehicles and Parts4.74.39.0
Truck Vehicles and Parts2.82.35.2
Rail Vehicles and Parts1.72.03.6
Pipeline Mineral Fuels0.73.84.6
Vessel Mineral Fuels0.60.91.5
Air Electrical Machinery0.30.10.4
Notes: 

Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html

(billions of current dollars)
ModeCommoditiesExportsImportsTotal
All Modes Electrical Machinery3.45.58.8
Truck Electrical Machinery3.05.28.1
Rail Vehicles and Parts0.43.13.5
Pipeline Mineral Fuels0.30.00.3
Vessel Mineral Fuels1.60.62.2
Air Electrical Machinery0.30.20.5
Notes: 

Numbers might not add to totals due to rounding.

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html

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 October TransBorder numbers for Jan. 4.

(millions of current dollars)
Month201520162017 Percent Change 2015-2016 Percent Change 2016-2017
January89,25882,43087,960-7.76.7
February85,72384,03886,474-2.02.9
March96,07090,462100,289-5.810.9
April93,32790,38091,068-3.20.8
May92,70789,84098,246-3.19.4
June99,03092,67199,764-6.47.7
July92,99583,72589,175-10.06.5
August92,44293,12697,4390.74.6
September93,24691,12694,379-2.33.6
October96,62493,165 -3.6
November88,15491,089 3.3
December86,74887,086 0.4
Year-to-date834,799797,798844,795-4.45.9
Annual1,106,3251,069,138 -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/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html

(millions of current dollars)
Mode September 2016 September 2017 Percent Change September 2016-2017
All ModesImports48,75550,1652.9
Exports42,37144,2144.3
Total91,12694,3793.6
All Surface ModesImports43,16043,8371.6
Exports34,78535,7742.8
Total77,94679,6112.1
TruckImports30,10031,0093.0
Exports28,86529,6942.9
Total58,96560,7032.9
RailImports9,5458,956-6.2
Exports4,9535,0642.2
Total14,49814,020-3.3
PipelineImports3,5153,87210.2
Exports9671,0165.1
Total4,4824,8899.1
VesselImports2,4143,07127.2
Exports2,4873,23029.9
Total4,9016,30128.6
AirImports1,6461,578-4.1
Exports2,1272,069-2.7
Total3,7733,647-3.4
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_DataF....

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html

(millions of current dollars)
Mode September 2016 September 2017 Percent Change September 2016-2017
All ModesImports23,66624,3743.0
Exports22,52524,1267.1
Total46,19148,5005.0
All Surface ModesImports20,89921,2401.6
Exports18,36619,5366.4
Total39,26540,7763.8
TruckImports12,37612,4770.8
Exports15,17115,9365.0
Total27,54728,4133.1
RailImports5,0244,903-2.4
Exports2,5512,85612.0
Total7,5757,7592.4
PipelineImports3,4993,86010.3
Exports64474415.5
Total4,1434,60411.1
VesselImports8341,25149.9
Exports52782456.4
Total1,3612,07552.4
AirImports1,010941-6.9
Exports1,3551,306-3.6
Total2,3652,248-5.0
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_DataF....

Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html

(millions of current dollars)
Mode September 2016 September 2017 Percent Change September 2016-2017
All ModesImports25,08925,7912.8
Exports19,84620,0871.2
Total44,93545,8792.1
All Surface ModesImports22,26122,5971.5
Exports16,41916,238-1.1
Total38,68138,8350.4
TruckImports17,72418,5324.6
Exports13,69413,7580.5
Total31,41832,2902.8
RailImports4,5214,053-10.4
Exports2,4022,208-8.1
Total6,9236,260-9.6
PipelineImports1613-22.3
Exports323273-15.6
Total339285-15.9
VesselImports1,5801,82015.2
Exports1,9602,40622.8
Total3,5404,22619.4
AirImports6366370.2
Exports772762-1.3
Total1,4081,399-0.6
Source: 

Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data, https://transborder.bts.gov/programs/international/transborder/TBDR_QA.html