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Transportation Statistics Annual Report Highlights

Chapter 1 Extent and Physical Condition of the U.S. Transportation System

  • The Nation’s transportation assets were valued at approximately $8.1 trillion in 2014, an increase of 17.7 percent over 2010 estimates. Publicly owned infrastructure and equipment accounted for over one-half of transportation capital stock.
  • Highway lane-miles as well as highway travel as measured by person-miles and vehicle-miles traveled increased by 2.0 to 3.0 percent over the 2010 to 2014 time period.
  • The condition of the U.S. transportation infrastructure is improving, but additional work is needed. The percentage of structurally deficient bridges declined from 12.0 percent in 2010 to 9.6 percent in 2015.
  • One impact of bridge deterioration is reduced load limits. In 2015, 11.3 percent of all bridges had load limits reduced, which caused commercial vehicle operators to carry smaller loads or take circuitous routes, increasing their costs.
  • The average age of the highway light-duty vehicle fleet increased by 28 percent over the 2000 to 2014 period and stood at about 11.4 years in 2014. The average age of commercial trucks was 14.8 years in 2015, up from 12.5 years in 2007.
  • The average age of inland waterway navigation locks, adjusted for the date of the most recent rehabilitation, is more than 50 years. Maintenance dredging of navigation channels decreased by 22 percent in 2 years, which could result in operators having to reduce tonnage.
  • The majority of airport runways (commercial service, reliever, and select general aviation) are in good condition; only 2 percent are considered poor.
  • Class 1 freight railroad capital expenditures totaled $15.1 billion in 2014, about 2.5 times the spending in 2000.
  • There is a general lack of data on vehicle and traffic control system condition (regardless of mode), parking infrastructure, and on most aspects of intermodal connections.

Chapter 2 Moving People

  • In 2014 U.S. person-miles of travel (including air travel to, from, and within the United States) totaled about 5.4 trillion—an increase of over 100 billion miles from 2013. About 70 percent of these travel-miles was in cars and other personal vehicles, while air travel accounted for 23 percent.
  • Person-miles of travel on highways in 2014 were below the prerecession peak set in 2007. Annual data for 2015 were not available when this report was completed, but a monthly indicator of highway traffic showed vehicle-miles growing beyond 2014 levels throughout 2015. Person-miles and vehicle-miles of travel often rise in tandem.
  • By comparison, following a record setting year in 2014, new air travel records were again set in 2015 for both domestic air travel and international air travel to and from the United States. Total U.S enplanements in 2015 were 894 million, compared to 801 million in 2005 and 768 million in the recession year of 2009.
  • Total air revenue passenger-miles were nearly 1.3 trillion in 2015, including U.S. and foreign carrier flights to and from the United States. International passenger-miles surpassed passenger-miles on domestic flights for the third consecutive year.
  • International visitors to the United States rose from 60 million in 2010 to nearly 75 million in 2014, generating $221 billion in export revenue—the highest in this century.
  • In 2014 about 4.5 percent of workers (or 6.2 million) worked primarily at home (e.g., people who are self-employed with a home office)—up from 4.2 million in 2000.
  • About 4.8 million workers (or 3.3 percent of commuters) walked or biked to work, about 517,000 more people than in 2000.
  • In October 2016 there were 3,923 bike share clocking stations in 125 U.S. cities, 75.1 percent of which were near local public transportation stops.
  • Ridership on Amtrak passenger trains and intercity bus transportation remained below 2012 levels in 2015, but ridership on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor trains 

Chapter 3 Moving Goods

  • In 2015 freight tonnage and value rose by 6.5 and 8.2 percent, respectively, over 2012 levels, fully rebounding from declines during the December 2007–June 2009 economic recession.
  • The U.S. freight transportation system moved 49.5 million tons of goods valued at more than $52.7 billion each day in 2015—about 56 tons of freight per year for every man, woman, and child in the United States, an increase of 4.0 percent over 2012 per capita tons.
  • Historically, trucks carry the largest shares by value, tons, and ton-miles for shipments of 750 miles or less. Rail dominates in tons and ton-miles for shipments of 750 to 2,000 miles, while air, modal combinations, and other / unknown modes account for the majority of the value of shipments of 2,000 miles or more.
  • The value of U.S.-international merchandise trade increased from more than $2.4 trillion in 2000 to approximately $3.5 trillion in 2015, a 40.1 percent increase. Trade with Canada and Mexico increased by 26.7 percent over the same period. This growth in trade has created additional traffic between international gateways and domestic destinations.
  • More than 400 freight transportation gateways, including airports, border crossings, and seaports, handled international cargo in 2015, while the latest available data show that in 2014 the top 25 freight gateways handled the greatest share of U.S. international merchandise trade—$2.5 trillion in current dollars, or 63.0 percent of the more than $3.9 trillion in total U.S.-international merchandise in that year.
  • Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming are major producers of energy commodities— oil in Alaska and North Dakota and coal in Wyoming. Alaska and North Dakota had the highest ratios of domestic export to domestic import shipments by value, while Alaska and Wyoming accounted for the highest ratios by tonnage.
  • Shifts in oil production have affected transportation patterns of energy commodity movements in recent years. Although pipelines continue to be the predominant mode for moving oil, rail shipments of crude oil have risen substantially, from less than 1 percent in 2010 to 21.5 percent in 2015. Domestic oil production has declined slightly in 2016.

Chapter 4 Transportation System Performance

  • The average annual delay per commuter rose from 37 hours in 2000 to 42 hours in 2014, a 13.5 percent increase, and the combined hours of delay experienced by all commuters across the Nation in 2014 reached 6.9 billion hours—about a third higher than the 2000 total.
  • Urban highway congestion cost the economy $160 billion in 2014, of which 17.5 percent, or $28 billion, was due to the effects of congestion on truck movements. Highway traffic congestion levels have increased over the past 30 years in all urban areas, from the largest to the smallest.
  • On average in 2014, travelers in major metropolitan areas had to allow at least 150 percent more travel time during peak periods to arrive on time 95 percent of the time.
  • Chicago, Austin, Atlanta, and Houston continued to be the most congested truck bottlenecks on freight-heavy highways.
  • Amtrak’s on-time performance increased from 70 percent in 2005 to a record high 83 percent in 2012, but declined to 71 percent in 2015. On-time improvement was more prominent on long distance routes.
  • About 18 percent of domestic scheduled airline flights (or 1.1 million flights) arrived at the gate at least 15 minutes late in 2015. Almost 11 percent (634 thousand) arrived at the gate more than 2 hours late.
  • The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 708 million airline passengers in 2015 and confiscated 2,653 firearms, 83 percent of which were loaded. Nationwide less than 2 percent of passengers waited in line for more than 20 minutes.
  • Barge tows on the inland waterways experienced an average delay of 2.4 hours navigating a lock in 2015, the largest delay on record and more than double the delay in 2000.
  • At inland waterway locks in 2015, scheduled maintenance and unexpected stoppages due to weather and operational issues resulted in almost 132,000 hours of lock shutdowns to traffic, almost 75 percent higher than the level in 2000.

Chapter 5 Transportation Economics

  • The demand for transportation increased by 4.2 percent from 2013 to 2014, marking the highest annual growth since the end of the December 2007 to June 2009 economic recession. The demand for transportation in 2014 exceeded 2007 for the first time since the end of the 2007 to 2009 recession.
  • Freight traffic, as measured by the freight TSI, has a strong relationship to the economy, with the freight TSI tending to lead accelerations and decelerations in the economy.
  • Employment in for-hire transportation and transportation-related industries has continued to rise since declining during the 2007 to 2009 recession, reaching 13.1 million in 2014, but has yet to rise above the pre-recession level of 13.5 million in 2007.
  • Total national expenditures on transportation accounted for roughly
  • $1,184 billion of all personal expenditures, making it the fourth largest expenditure category after healthcare, housing, and food.
  • Total government transportation revenues continue to fall short of government transportation expenditures. In 2012 government transportation revenues covered 56.3 percent of expenditures. The gap between transportation revenues and expenditures has declined since 2009, when revenues covered 51.0 percent of expenditures.
  • The total costs faced by producers of transportation services have increased. Businesses purchasing transportation services also have faced price increases, with the price for rail transportation services growing (58.2 percent) more rapidly than any other transportation mode except pipeline, which grew 124.3 percent between 2014 and 2015.

Chapter 6 Transportation Safety

  • Highway motor vehicle fatalities rose 7.2 percent in 2015 as the 35,092 highway deaths alone exceeded the 2014 number for all transportation fatalities (34,641).
  • Fifteen highway rail crossings were identified as having 10 or more incidents (not necessarily involving fatalities) in the last decade.
  • Pedestrian fatalities represent the third highest number of transportation related deaths in 2015 and have made up an increasing share of the total over the past 5 years, increasing from 12.3 percent in 2010 to 14.5 percent in 2015.
  • The number of people injured in highway motor vehicle accidents increased by an estimated 105,000, to 2.44 million in 2015 – the first increase in the highway injury count since 2012.
  • The total cost of motor vehicle crashes was estimated at $836 billion in 2010, with the broader societal costs, including lost quality of life, accounting for 71 percent of the total, far outweighing the economic costs at 29 percent.
  • Motorcyclist injuries have increased 62.7 percent, from about 58,000 injured in 2000 to 92,000 in 2014.
  • Alcohol use continues to be a major factor in transportation deaths and injuries. Alcohol involvement either by the driver or the pedestrian was reported in 48 percent of all fatal crashes involving pedestrians in 2014. Approximately 29 percent of motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes were alcohol impaired, and alcohol use was a leading factor in 17 percent of fatal recreational boating accidents in 2015.
  • Approximately 3,500 motor vehicle occupants and motorcyclists who died in crashes in 2015 might have lived if they had used seat belts or motorcycle helmets, and 85 percent of the boaters who drowned in 2015 were not wearing a life jacket.
  • In 2014 pilots reported 238 unmanned aircraft sightings in the United States. There were about 5 times as many sightings (about 1,210) in 2015.

Chapter 7 Transportation Energy Use and Environmental Impacts

  • Despite transportation’s continued dependence on petroleum, recent trends show decreasing import dependence, small reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and sharply reduced emissions of other air pollutants. U.S. dependence on imported oil decreased from a high of 60.3 percent in 2005 to 24.0 percent in 2015, largely as a result of increased domestic oil production.
  • Transportation continues to rely almost entirely on petroleum to move people and goods. However, the sector’s dependence on petroleum decreased from a peak of 97.3 percent of transportation energy use in 1978 to 91.7 percent in 2015. This reduction is due in part to increases in domestically produced ethanol in gasoline and improved fuel economy.
  • The highway mode continues to dominate transportation energy use. Highway vehicles used 84.1 percent of total transportation energy in 2014, with personal vehicles accounting for 73.2 percent of highway energy use and 61.6 percent of total transportation energy use.
  • The energy required to move one person one mile or one ton of freight one mile has generally declined over time. In 1975 the average miles per gallon (mpg) for all highway vehicles was 13.3 mpg. In 2014 the average was around 21.4 mpg and has continued to improve.
  • Transportation is the second largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), accounting for 26.0 percent of total U.S. emissions in 2014. Aside from greenhouse gases, the six most widespread or common air pollutant emissions from transportation are below their 2000 levels and continued to decline from 2009 to 2015 due to many factors, including motor vehicle emissions controls that have contributed to considerable reductions.
  • Across 161 monitored urban areas, the total number of very unhealthy air quality days that could trigger health emergency warnings decreased from 290 in 2000 to 15 in 2015.
  • Since 1990, hybrid and electric vehicles have grown to nearly 3.0 percent of the U.S. market for new vehicles. However, with petroleum prices low, the sale of these alternative fuel vehicles has decreased and sales of pickup trucks and SUVs have increased.

Chapter 8 The State of Transportation Statistics

  • Progress is being made on quantifying the contributions of transportation to the economy and the uses of transportation by major industries.
  • BTS is improving the frequency of updates to data on the extent and characteristics of transportation infrastructure, and has compiled a National Transit Map to fill a long-standing gap in data on the transportation network.
  • BTS is establishing a new port performance freight statistics program to publish annually nationally comparable measures of capacity and throughput.
  • Extensive data are available on local passenger travel and most long-distance freight movement, but data gaps continue for long-distance travel, domestic movement of international trade, and local freight movement.
  • Cost data are available for most forms of passenger travel but are limited for freight movement.
  • Substantial data are available on crashes related to transportation, but the availability of data on causation of safety problems varies by mode of transportation, and the integration of data on motor vehicle crashes, the conditions surrounding each crash, and consequences of the crash remains elusive.
  • “Big data” and other alternative data sources may offer ways to update and improve the detail of traditional statistics, but research is needed to determine the reliability and validity of statistics from these sources, to establish institutional arrangements for access to large proprietary databases, and to integrate these new data sources with traditional forms of data and analysis to provide effective information for decision makers. Real-time data may offer ways to validate traditional statistics.
  • The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) has achieved significant progress in improving the state of transportation statistics over the last 25 years and will continue to create increasingly robust, credible statistics that support evidence- based decision making and that are useful and used throughout the Nation.
Updated: Thursday, March 16, 2017