The Freight Transportation Services Index fell 1.9 percent in March from its February level, the largest monthly decline since August 2006, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported.

Since dropping to a recent low in September, the freight index increased sharply in October and January, with each rise followed by a sharp drop two months later. At 109.4 in March, the freight TSI was up 1.3 percent in the six months since its recent low of 108 in September but down 3.3 percent from its peak of 113.1 reached in November 2005.

The 0.5 percent increase in the freight index since December marked the second consecutive year the index increased in the first three months.

The freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by the for-hire freight transportation industries. The index consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

The March freight TSI level of 109.4 was 0.4 percent lower than the March 2007 level for the third consecutive March-to-March decline. The index is at its lowest March level since March 2003.

Despite declines from recent March levels, the freight index has increased 6.1 percent in five years and 10.7 percent in 10 years.

The TSI is a seasonally adjusted index that measures changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. It includes historic data from 1990 to the present. Release of the April index is scheduled for June 11.