The value of U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $96.6 billion in October 2015 as all modes of transportation carried a lower total value of freight than a year earlier, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). October was the first month on record in which the total value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows exceeded U.S.-Canada freight flows. Although the total freight value to and from both Canada and Mexico fell from October 2014, the decline in freight value with Canada (18.5 percent) was much larger than the decline with Mexico (1.5 percent) primarily due to the reduced unit price of crude oil.
Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by all modes declined by 10.7 percent.
Freight by Mode
In October 2015 compared to October 2014, the value of commodities moving by truck decreased by 2.0 percent, while the value of air freight decreased by 2.1 percent and rail by 15.3 percent. Vessel freight values decreased 35.0 percent and pipeline freight decreased 52.0 percent mainly due to the lower unit price of crude oil, which comprises a large share of the commodities carried by these modes. Apart from the decline in value, there was an 8.0 percent decline in the weight of imported crude oil from October 2014 to October 2015, which was likely due to production declines in Canada and Mexico. Average monthly prices for crude petroleum and refined fuel are available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Trucks carried 67.1 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continue to be the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $33.6 billion of the $51.4 billion of imports (65.4 percent) and $31.2 billion of the $45.3 billion of exports (69.0 percent).
Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 14.3 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 5.6 percent; air, 4.2 percent; and pipeline, 3.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.3 percent of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.
The value of U.S.-Canada freight totaled $47.7 billion in October 2015, down 18.5 percent from October 2014, as all modes of transportation carried a lower value of U.S.-Canada freight than a year earlier. The year-over-year decline in U.S.-Canada freight flows is the largest since the 19.4 percent decline between October 2008 and October 2009.
Lower crude oil prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease in the value of freight moved between the U.S. and Canada. Crude oil a large share of freight carried by vessel and pipeline, which were down 31.7 percent and 53.2 percent respectively year-over-year.
Trucks carried 61.2 percent of the $47.7 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 15.4 percent; pipeline, 7.3 percent; air, 4.9 percent; and vessel, 4.1 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.9 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows.
The value of U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $48.9 billion in October 2015, down 1.5 percent from October 2014, as two out of the five transportation modes – air and truck – carried more U.S.-Mexico freight than in October 2014. The value of U.S.-Mexico air freight rose 14.8 percent from October 2014 to October 2015, the largest percentage increase of any mode. Freight carried by truck increased by 4.7 percent while rail freight was down 5.7 percent and pipeline freight declined 30.5 percent. Vessel freight decreased by 36.7 percent mainly due to lower crude oil prices.
Trucks carried 72.8 percent of the $48.9 billion of the value of freight transported to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 13.3 percent; vessel, 7.0 percent; air, 3.6 percent; and pipeline, 0.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 86.7 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.
See BTS Transborder Statistics Release for summary tables and additional data. See North American Transborder Freight Data on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004.