Fleet Management

Trucking’s Share of Cross-Border Freight Falls

June 23, 2017

By Evan Lockridge

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The value of freight moved between the U.S and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico moved higher in April for the sixth straight month, but trucking's share fell, according to new U.S. Transportation Department figures.

U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $91.1 billion in current dollars in April, 0.8% higher than compared to the same time in 2016.

Despite the overall gain the value of freight moved by truck fell 5.5% while air freight fell 2.1%. The value of commodities moving by pipeline increased 63.5%, vessel by 27.8%, and rail by 5.8%.

The large percentage increase in the value of goods moving by pipeline and vessel was due in part to a 25% increase in the year-over-year price of crude oil between April 2016 and April 2017, according to the report.

The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada during April was vehicles and parts, of which $4.8 billion, or 53.7%, moved by truck and $3.9 billion, or 43.8%, moved by rail.

Trucks carried 62.6% of U.S.-NAFTA freight and continued to be the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $29.4 billion of the $49.5 billion of imports or 59.5%, and $27.6 billion of the $41.6 billion of exports, or 66.3%.

Rail remained the second largest mode by value, moving 16.4% of all U.S.-NAFTA freight.

U.S.-Canada Truck Freight Falls 2.8 Percent

The value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased by 2.5% in April from a year earlier to $47 billion as the value of freight on three major modes increased from a year earlier.

The value of freight carried on pipeline increased by 67.1%, vessel by 13.8%, and rail by 6.4%. Truck decreased by 2.8%, and air decreased by 7.2%.

Trucks carried 57.6% of the value of the freight to and from Canada while rail carried 17.7% followed by pipeline, 10.9%; air, 4.3%; and vessel, 3.5%.

Trucking Only Mode To See Value of U.S.-Mexico Freight Drop

From April 2016 to April 2017, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows decreased by 1% to $44 billion even as the value of freight on four major modes increased from a year earlier.

The value of commodities moved by vessel increased by 34.5%, pipeline by 19.7%, air by 7.1% and rail by 5.1%.

Truck, which carries the largest share of U.S.-Mexico freight, decreased by 7.8%. The drop was primarily due to a 19.3% decline in the value of computers and parts, often the top commodity moved between the two countries.

Instead, in April, it was vehicles and parts, of which $3.7 billion or 44.4% moved by truck and $3.7 billion or 44% moved by rail.

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