Fleet Management

Trucks Move More U.S.-NAFTA Freight, Overall Level Declines

April 23, 2015

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Percent change in value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by mode: February 2014 - February 2015. Graphic: U.S. DOT
Percent change in value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by mode: February 2014 - February 2015. Graphic: U.S. DOT

Freight movements between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico fell in February, hitting its lowest level in terms of value since 2011, according to new U.S. Transportation Department figures.

The 4.3% decline compares to the same time a year earlier, totaling $85.7 billion, but two out of five transportation modes, air and truck, carried more freight than in February 2014.

The value of commodities moving by air grew by the largest percentage of any mode, 4.5%. Truck freight increased by 0.9%. Rail freight decreased by 6.2%. Pipeline freight fell by 22.8% and vessel freight declined by 29%, mainly due to the lower unit price of mineral fuel shipments.

Trucks carried 63.1% of the freight moved between the North American Free Trade Agreement partners and was the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from Canada and Mexico. Trucks accounted for $26.9 billion of the $45.7 billion of imports, or 58.9%, and $27.2 billion of the $40 billion of exports, or 67.9%.

Rail remained the second largest mode, moving 14.4% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 7.1%; pipeline, 6.1%; and air, 3.8%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.7% of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

U.S.-Canada Freight Flows

U.S.-Canada freight totaled $45.1 billion in February while air was the only one out of five transportation modes that carried more U.S.-Canada freight than in February 2014, increasing 3%.

Truck freight decreased by 2.9% and rail fell by 13.3%. Pipeline freight declined by 22.8% and vessel was 26.5% lower.

Trucks carried 57.2% of the $45.1 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 14.6%; pipeline, 11%; vessel, 4.9% and air, 4.7%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.9% of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada was mineral fuels, of which $4.9 billion, or 58.2%, moved by pipeline.

U.S.-Mexico Freight Movements

U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $40.6 billion in February 2015 as three out of five transportation modes; air, truck, and rail; carried more U.S.-Mexico freight than in February 2014. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Mexico air freight rose 7.4%, the largest percentage increase of any mode. Freight carried by truck increased by 4.7% and rail freight increased by 3.3%. Pipeline freight decreased by 23.1% and vessel freight decreased by 30.4%

Trucks carried 69.6% of the $40.6 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 14.2%; vessel, 9.5%; air, 2.9%; and pipeline, 0.7%. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.5% of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Mexico in February 2015 was vehicles, of which $3.6 billion, or 49.3%, moved by truck.

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