Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

2016 Freight Quick Facts Report

1. Existing Infrastructure and How it is Used

Multimodal Perspective – Mode Share

The freight transportation system relies on a variety of modes to support domestic and international supply chains. As shown in Table 1, trucks carry the majority of freight in the continental United States, both by tonnage and value. Pipelines carry the second largest tonnage, although this mode involves only specific liquid and gaseous commodities. The commodities moved by truck and air tend to have a higher value per ton, giving these modes a higher share in terms of value. In interpreting this table, it is important to keep in mind that most goods rely on multiple freight modes throughout the supply chain.

Table 1. Mode share by tonnage and value, 2015.
Domestic Mode Millions of Tons Billions of 2015 USD
Domestic Only Export Import Total Domestic Only Export Import Total
Air (include truck-air) 0% 0% 0% 0% 1% 17% 14% 4%
Multiple modes & mail 2% 5% 3% 2% 12% 6% 6% 11%
Other modes and unknown 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1% 2% 0%
Pipeline 19% 13% 16% 18% 9% 4% 4% 8%
Rail 9% 15% 9% 9% 3% 5% 5% 3%
Truck 66% 52% 35% 64% 73% 57% 53% 69%
Water 4% 15% 11% 5% 3% 10% 9% 4%
No Domestic Mode 0% 0% 25% 2% 0% 0% 7% 1%
Total 16,045 912 1,099 18,056 15,558 1,745 2,567 19,871

Table 1 also provides a breakdown of freight flows by whether they are part of an international supply chain (exports or imports) or have domestic origins and destinations. Overall, exports represent 8.8 percent of value shipped and imports represent 12.9 percent. In terms of tonnage, these proportions are 5.0 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.

Measuring commodity flows in terms of tonnage is useful for assessing infrastructure requirements (how much needs to be moved), while measuring the economic value of the flows is more useful in highlighting economic impacts and interdependencies. However, measuring the value of flows has the drawback that many factors can lead to year-over-year changes, including changes in the prices of the underlying commodities. Therefore, where possible, this document reports both tonnage and value.

Multimodal Perspective – Commodity Mode Shares

The patterns of production and consumption in an economy are the primary drivers of freight mode share. Table 2 shows the mode shares of the top 15 commodities in terms of tonnage, which account for 80.5 percent of all tons shipped in 2015. The commodity groups reported in this document follow the two-digit Standard Classification of Transported Goods (SCTG) definitions. Pipelines are the primary shipping medium for natural gas, gasoline, fuel oils, and crude petroleum. Rail is used primarily for coal, cereal grains, basic chemicals, and other bulk products. Trucks are involved in the supply chains of almost all commodities, particularly for consumer goods that need to be delivered to retail locations.

Table 2. Commodity share of tons by mode, 2015.
Rank Top Commodities by Tonnage Mode (percent) Millions of Tons
Air Pipeline Rail Truck Water Other
1 Coal-n.e.c. 0 80 2 15 2 0 2,647.0
2 Gravel 0 0 4 90 3 2 1,820.3
3 Gasoline 0 31 2 59 7 1 1,227.2
4 Cereal grains 0 0 18 77 4 2 1,099.0
5 Nonmetal mineral products 0 0 4 94 1 2 1,072.6
6 Fuel oils 0 29 2 51 17 1 1,054.4
7 Coal 0 0 61 23 8 8 1,001.1
8 Crude petroleum 0 50 r 3 13 30 903.4
9 Other foodstuffs 0 0 7 89 1 3 704.1
10 Waste/scrap 0 0 5 92 2 2 652.9
11 Natural sands 0 0 4 94 1 1 562.0
12 Other agricultural products 0 0 5 92 2 2 652.9
13 Wood products 0 0 6 90 0 3 433.2
14 Basic chemicals 0 8 27 50 13 1 408.6
15 Mixed freight 0 0 0 97 0 2 386.1
Other 0 0 10 82 3 4 3,529.6
Total 0 18 9 64 5 4 18,055.9

n.e.c.=not elsewhere classified
Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework 4.2 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4); however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value was adjusted for inflation.
Other includes: multiple modes & mail, no domestic mode, and other, and unknown.

Table 3 shows the top 15 commodities moved by value and the freight modes used. These top 15 commodities account for 73 percent of all value shipped. Trucks overwhelmingly transport high-value commodities such as electronics, mixed freight shipments, vehicles, and machinery. Air shows up prominently in this table, especially for higher-value, time-sensitive commodities such as electronics, machinery, pharmaceuticals, and precision instruments.

Table 3. Commodity share of value by mode, 2015.
Rank Top Commodities by Value Mode (percent) Billions of Dollars (2015)
Air Pipeline Rail Truck Water Other
1 Electronics 15 0 0 62 2 21 1,726.9
2 Motorized vehicles 1 0 7 77 2 13 1,513.9
3 Mixed Freight 1 0 0 90 2 7 1,505.4
4 Machinery 7 0 1 77 3 12 1,185.4
5 Gasoline 0 31 2 59 7 1 1,165.3
6 Coal-n.e.c. 0 57 3 35 4 1 967.8
7 Pharmaceuticals 8 0 0 53 1 38 932.2
8 Fuel Oils 0 27 1 56 15 1 880.1
9 Misc. mfg. prods 7 0 0 65 1 26 816.3
10 Other foodstuffs 0 0 5 91 1 3 733.2
11 Plastics/rubber 1 0 12 76 2 9 732.8
12 Textiles/leather 2 0 0 73 3 22 673.4
13 Crude petroleum 0 49 4 3 14 31 610.5
14 Base metals 1 0 8 85 2 5 560.8
15 Precision instruments 20 0 0 44 2 35 492.7
Other 3 1 6 79 3 8 5,373.9
Total 4 8 3 69 4 12 19,870.7

n.e.c.=not elsewhere classified
Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework 4.2 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: Other includes: multiple modes & mail, no domestic mode, and other and unknown.

Multimodal Perspective – Modal Trends

Freight volumes increased rapidly throughout most of the 1990s and 2000s as shown in Table 4. Even though the economic recession of 2008 temporarily decreased freight ton-miles, after 2010 growth has rebounded strongly to pre-recession averages. Looking into the future, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) forecasts total ton-miles to grow at 1 percent per year through 2040. Projections of steady economic growth (the economy doubling in size by 2045) and population growth (an additional 68 million people by 2045) will drive this increase in freight transportation demand.

The USDOT expects different freight modes to grow at different rates. Trucks have been rapidly gaining mode share since 1990 and will continue to do so out to 2040. Rail has also been steadily gaining mode share over the last two decades, although the USDOT expects these advances to slow down in the medium term and reverse in the long term, as several key bulk commodities play a smaller role in the economy (refer to page 6).

Table 4. Historical and forecasted mode share of ton-miles, 1990 to 2040.
Domestic Mode Ton-Miles Mode Share Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
1990 2000 2010 2015 2040 Historical Forecast
1990 to 2000 2000 to 2010 2010 to 2015 2015 to 2040
Truck 36.4% 42.3% 44.0% 46.5% 54.4% 3.2 1.0 3.0 1.6
Railroad 22.9% 28.1% 29.4% 28.7% 25.9% 3.8 1.1 1.4 0.6
Pipeline 22.0% 17.3% 17.0% 16.7% 12.1% -0.8 0.5 1.5 -0.3
Domestic Water Transportation 17.9% 11.5% 8.8% 7.4% 6.8% -2.8% -2.0% -1.8% 0.6%
Air 0.8% 0.7% 0.8% 0.7% 0.7% 1.1 1.0 0.9 0.8
Total Ton-Miles (trillions) 4.77 5.62 5.98 6.56 8.39 1.6 0.6 1.9 1.0

Source: Draft National Freight Strategic Plan (https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/draft_NFSP_for_Public_Comment_508_102015201520v1.pdf), BTS Special Tabulation, Figure 4.

Table 5 shows that, from 2007 to 2015, substantial decreases in tons shipped for almost all modes occurred because of the economic recession. Pipelines, which saw almost double-digit growth from the boom in natural gas and petroleum production, are one exception; however, as shown in Table 4, The Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) forecasts pipelines to grow at a slower pace in the coming decades, mainly in response to volatility in the energy markets. Air cargo tons and value have also grown quickly over the past several years—a trend that is expected to continue out to 2045.

Table 5. Historical and forecasted tons and value, 2007 to 2045.
Domestic Mode" Historical Average Annual Growth Rate 2007 to 2015 (percent) Forecasted Average Annual Growth Rate 2015 to 2045 (percent)
Tons Value Tons Value
Air (include truck-air) 4.4 9.1 4.1 4.8
Multiple modes & mail -4.7 0.0 1.6 2.4
No domestic mode -1.2 2.7 0.3 0.3
Other and unknown -24.5 -20.6 -0.3 4.7
Pipeline 9.0 6.5 1.1 0.7
Rail -2.2 0.4 0.7 2.0
Truck -1.8 -0.2 1.2 2.1
Water 3.1 14.5 1.1 2.6
Total -0.6 0.5 1.1 2.2

Source: USDOT, Draft National Freight Strategic Plan, BTS Special Tabulation, Figure 4. (https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/Draft_NFSP_for_Public_Comment_508_10%2015%2015%20v1.pdf).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 to 2015; however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value was adjusted for inflation.

Multimodal Perspective – Commodity Forecast

The FAF developed forecasts by projecting the level of economic activity in each commodity-producing industry and deriving freight transportation requirements. Table 6 provides a summary of these commodity-level projections. From 2007 to 2015, the economic recession depressed the flows of most commodities. The commodities that decreased the most in tonnage were waste/scrap, cereal grains, coal, gravel, and nonmetal mineral products. At the same time, measured by value, several commodities grew consistently over this period, such as mixed freight, gasoline, coal-n.e.c. (not elsewhere classified—mostly natural gas and petroleum products), fuel oils, and crude petroleum. Note that some of the growth in coal-n.e.c. can be attributed to a change in how activity was measured in the FAF; however, there has clearly been a rapid increase in natural gas production over the past five years.

Looking into the future, FAF forecasts tonnage growth in coal-n.e.c., nonmetal mineral products, other foodstuffs, waste/scrap, and basic chemicals. In terms of value, significant growth is expected from electronics, machinery, pharmaceuticals, and miscellaneous manufacturing products. Growth in these high value commodities will drive mode share increases for air (Table 5), while declines in bulk commodities will have a negative impact on rail mode share.

Table 6. Historical and forecasted commodity flows, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Tons Tons Rank Top Commodities by Value Value
Historical Average Annual Growth Rate 2007 to 2015 (percent) Forecasted Average Annual Growth Rate 2015 to 2045 (percent) Historical Average Annual Growth Rate 2007 to 2015 (percent) Forecasted Average Annual Growth Rate 2015 to 2045 (percent)
1 Coal-n.e.c. 9.3 1.5 1 Electronics 0.7 3.8
2 Gravel -2.7 1.0 2 Motorized vehicles 0.6 1.3
3 Gasoline 2.5 -0.5 3 Mixed freight 2.7 1.7
4 Cereal grains -3.6 0.9 4 Machinery -6.4 3.3
5 Nonmetal man. prods. -3.2 1.6 5 Gasoline 5.0 -0.6
6 Fuel oils 4.4 -0.3 6 Coal-n.e.c. 6.5 1.5
7 Coal -4.5 -1.0 7 Pharmaceuticals -1.0 3.4
8 Crude petroleum 1.0 -0.1 8 Fuel oils 8.0 -0.4
9 Other foodstuffs 3.4 1.8 9 Misc. mfg products 0.4 3.0
10 Waste/scrap -8.5 1.7 10 Other foodstuffs 1.9 2.0
11 Natural sands -0.2 1.4 11 Plastics/rubber 1.3 2.5
12 Other ag. prods. 3.0 1.6 12 Textiles/leather -2.1 1.1
13 Wood prods. 0.5 0.8 13 Crude petroleum 4.8 -0.1
14 Basic chemicals -1.6 2.0 14 Base metals -1.6 1.4
15 Mixed freight 1.5 1.5 15 Precision instruments 1.4 4.5
Other commodities -2.5 1.8 Other commodities -0.3 2.1
Total -0.6 1.1 Total 0.5 2.2

n.e.c.=not elsewhere classified, ag=agricultural, mfg.=manufacturing, min=mineral, prods=products
Data Source: BTS and FHWA, Freight Analysis Framework, version 3.5 and 4.2, 2016 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4); however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value was adjusted for inflation.

Multimodal Perspective – International Trade

Trade with other countries has increased rapidly in recent decades, bringing the value of exports and imports to a total of $3.9 trillion in 2013. The freight transportation sector plays a critical role in connecting the U.S. economy to the rest of the world and ensuring the competitiveness of American businesses.

With the implementation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and increasing regional economic integration, U.S. border crossings have become an ever more important part of the freight transportation system. Trade by land between the United States and Mexico quadrupled in value from 1995 to 2014. Table 7 shows that each year around 11.2 million trucks and 2.0 million rail containers cross the Mexican or Canadian borders. Since 2010, truck crossings have increased at the fast pace of 2.4 percent per year and rail container crossings have grown at the impressive rate of 7.6 percent per year. Freight activity at the borders has rebounded strongly since the economic recession of 2008, with most of the gains coming from trade with Mexico.

Table 7. Thousands of border crossings and average annual percentage change, 2000 to 2014.
Type of Border Shipment Type 2000 2010 2014 Annual Average Growth Rate (percent)
2000 to 2010 2010 to 2014
Canadian Border Trucks 7,048 5,444 5,802 -2.5 1.6
Loaded truck Containers 5,335 4,171 4,145 -2.4 -0.2
Trains 33 26 29 -2.4 2.8
Loaded rail containers 1,215 1,209 1,575 0.0 6.8
Mexican Borders Trucks 4,526 4,743 5,415 0.5 3.4
Loaded truck Containers 2,350 3,174 3,779 3.1 4.5
Trains 7 8 10 1.3 5.7
Loaded rail containers 266 318 474 1.8 10.5
Both Borders Trucks 11,574 10,187 11,217 -1.3 5.7
Loaded truck Containers 7,685 7,345 7,924 -0.5 1.9
Trains 40 34 39 -1.6 3.5
Loaded rail containers 1,481 1,5247 2,049 0.3 7.6

Source: BTS Freight Facts and Figures 2015 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm), Table 2-11.
Note: "Number of trains" includes both passenger and freight trains.

Truck – Commodities Moved

Trucks carry 64 percent of the tons and 69 percent of the value moved in the United States. As shown in Table 8, the top commodities moved by truck are gravel, nonmetallic mineral products, and cereal grains, which together represent more than 30 percent of all truck tons; however, from 2007 to 2015 all three of these commodities saw significant declines, leading overall truck tons to decline at an average rate of 1.8 percent during this period, despite commodities such as gasoline, other foodstuffs, and fuel oils increasing. The FAF predicts a rebound in truck tons over the coming decades, with an average growth rate of 1.2 percent per year.

On the other hand, as seen in Table 9, the top commodities in terms of value are mixed freight, motorized vehicles, and electronics. These three commodities saw moderate growth from 2007 to 2015; however, the fourth top commodity, machinery, saw a precipitous decline during this time. The FAF forecast predicts strong growth in electronics, pharmaceuticals, miscellaneous manufactured products, and a sharp rebound in machinery freight during the 2015-2045 period.

Table 8. Top commodities moved by truck, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Tonnage Million Tons 2015 Percent of Tons Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
Historical (2007 to 2015) Forecasted (2015 to 2045)
1 Gravel 1,643 14.3 -2.7 1.0
2 Nonmetal mineral products 1,004 8.7 -4.1 0.8
3 Cereal grains 844 7.3 -4.1 0.8
4 Gasoline 719 6.2 2.6 -1.0
5 Other foodstuffs 630 5.5 3.3 1.8
6 Waste/scrap 599 5.2 -8.8 1.6
7 Fuel oils 541 4.7 4.6 -0.9
8 Natural sands 527 4.6 0.3 1.5
9 Other agricultural products 479 4.2 3.5 1.5
10 Coal-n.e.c. 407 3.5 -1.1 1.5
11 Wood products 390 3.4 0.8 0.7
12 Mixed freight 375 3.3 1.5 1.4
13 Logs 317 2.8 -5.8 0.9
14 Animal feed 299 2.6 3.8 1.4
15 Base metals 297 2.6 -1.4 1.4
Other commodities 2,442 21.2 -2.6 1.7
Total 11,513 100.0 -1.8 1.2

n.e.c.=not elsewhere classified, USD=U.S. dollars
Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework, version 3.5 and 4.2, 2016 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4); however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value was adjusted for inflation.

Table 9. Top commodities moved by truck, by value, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Value Billion USD 2015 Percent of USD Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
Historical (2007 to 2015) Forecasted (2015 to 2045)
1 Mixed freight 1,315 9.9 3.8 1.5
2 Motorized vehicles 1,131 8.5 2.5 1.2
3 Electronics 1,029 7.8 1.9 3.7
4 Machinery 882 6.6 -6.5 3.1
5 Gasoline 671 5.1 6.1 -1.0
6 Other foodstuffs 646 4.9 2.9 1.9
7 Plastics/rubber 537 4.0 2.5 2.3
8 Misc. manufactured products 516 3.9 1.6 3.1
9 Pharmaceuticals 477 3.6 -3.0 3.2
10 Fuel oils 475 3.6 9.6 -1.0
11 Textiles/leather 474 3.6 -0.9 1.0
12 Base metals 461 3.5 0.3 1.4
13 Articles-base metal 380 2.9 -3.0 2.0
14 Furniture 361 2.7 7.2 2.5
15 Chemical products 358 2.7 0.7 2.6
Other 3,553 26.8 1.1 1.9
Total 13,267 100.0 1.1 2.1

USD=United States Dollar
Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework 3.5 and 4.2 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4); however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value was adjusted for inflation.

Truck – Sector Characteristics

The truck fleet in service is highly diverse and provides a variety of functions throughout the country. As shown in Table 10, single-unit trucks travel more frequently on urban roads than combination trucks, as they are used more frequently for urban deliveries. On the other hand, combination trucks travel more frequently on intercity routes, accruing more mileage on interstate highways.

Table 10. Truck vehicle miles traveled by roadway type, 2014.
Roadway Type Single-Unit Trucks Combination Trucks All Vehicles
Billion VMT Percent Billion VMT Percent Billion VMT Percent
Rural - Total 42.7 39 89.5 53 234.3 30
Rural - Interstate 9.3 8 46.8 28 355.1 8
Rural - Arterial 16.3 15 29.3 17 334.4 12
Rural - Other 17.1 16 13.4 8 920.9 11
Urban - Total 66.6 61 80.4 47 519.8 70
Urban - Interstate 16.5 15 40.9 24 1,584.9 17
Urban - Other 50.1 46 39.5 23 2,104.7 52
Total Urban and Rural 109.3 100 169.8 100 3,025.7 100

VMT = vehicle miles traveled
Source: FHWA Highway Statistics 2014, Table VM-1 (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2014/vm1.cfm).
Note: Single-units trucks have two axles and at least six tires or a gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 10,000 lbs.

As shown in Table 11, combination trucks and single-unit trucks account for 9.2 percent of total miles driven in the United States in 2014. In that year, 8.3 million single-unit trucks and 2.5 million combination trucks were registered. On average, combination trucks drove around six times more miles per year than single-unit trucks.

Table 11. Truck vehicle miles traveled and registrations, 2014.
Vehicle Type Urban and Rural Miles Registered Vehicles Average VMT per year
Billion VMT Percent Billion VMT Percent
Single-unit trucks 109.3 3.6 8.33 3.2 13,123
Combination Trucks 169.8 5.6 2.58 1.0 65,897
All Vehicles 3,025.7 100 260.4 100.0 11,621

VMT = vehicle miles traveled
Source: FHWA Highway Statistics 2014, Table VM-1, (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2014/vm1.cfm).

As can be seen in Table 12, total truck miles decreased from 2007 to 2010 primarily due to the effects of the economic recession. Single-unit truck vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased more quickly than VMT for combination trucks. The mileage traveled by all vehicles in the United States decreased as well, albeit not as quickly. Since 2010, most of the increase in truck travel has been on urban interstate highways, where truck traffic is growing at a pace much faster than general traffic, while declines in truck travel have occurred on rural interstates and non-interstate roads.

Table 12. Trends in truck vehicle miles traveled and registrations, 2007 to 2013 (percent).
Variables Urban Rural All Roads
Interstate Non-Interstate Interstate Non-Interstate
Average Annual Growth Rate 2007 to 2010 System lane-miles 1.12 1.69 0.02 0.02 0.49
Sing-unit truck VMT -4.51 -3.08 0.45 -2.16 0.49
Combination truck VMT -2.70 -0.36 -2.62 -0.55 -1.55
All vehicle VMT -0.38 -0.21 -1.42 -1.66 -0.71
Average Annual Growth Rate 2010 to 2013 System lane-miles 2.34 2.35 -0.74 -0.56 0.29
Sing-unit truck VMT 2.34 2.35 -0.74 -0.56 0.29
Combination truck VMT 3.29 -2.68 -0.74 -4.73 -1.41
All vehicle VMT 1.88 0.79 -1.57 -1.41 0.24

VMT = vehicle miles traveled
Source: FHWA Highway Statistics 2007 - 2014, Table VM-1 (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2014/vm1.cfm).

Currently in the United States, more than 4 million centerline miles of public roads exist, of which 230,000 are interstates or high-volume highways. Roadway lane miles increased at 0.5 percent per year from 2007 to 2010 and 0.3 percent per year from 2010 through 2013. The roadway network also includes more than 600,000 bridges.

Rail – Commodities Moved

Rail moves 9.0 percent of tons and 3.0 percent of freight value in the United States. The single most important commodity for rail is coal. As can be seen in Table 13, in 2015 coal accounted for 36.3 percent of all tons moved. However, from 2007 to 2015, shipments of coal have been declining rapidly, averaging 6.1 percent per year. The FAF predicts that these declines will continue as the energy mix within the United States changes in response to more stringent environmental regulations and the emergence of alternative energy sources.

Declines in coal shipments from 2007 to 2015 were partially offset by increases in shipments of other energy products, such as crude petroleum and gasoline, because pipeline capacity could not accommodate the boom in domestic production. However, this is unlikely to continue as pipeline capacity catches up to demand and uncertainty in world oil markets makes U.S. crude less competitive. Shipments of other commodities such as cereal grains, fertilizers, plastic/rubber, and other foodstuffs have increased since 2007 and are expected to continue increasing out to 2045.

Table 13. Top commodities moved by rail, by tonnage, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Tonnage Million Tons 2015 Percent of Tons Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
Historical (2007 to 2015) Forecasted (2015 to 2045)
1 Coal 615.0 36.3 -6.1 -1.3
2 Cereal Grains 197.7 11.7 2.3 0.8
3 Basic chemicals 111.7 6.6 -0.8 2.1
4 Gravel 79.0 4.7 0.2 0.7
5 Fertilizers 69.7 4.1 5.4 1.5
6 Plastics/rubber 58.4 3.4 2.8 2.9
7 Metallic ores 56.5 3.3 -0.2 0.5
8 Other foodstuffs 48.8 2.9 5.9 2.1
9 Coal-n.e.c. 47.9 2.8 -6.9 1.6
10 Base metals 45.1 2.7 -2.9 1.3
11 Nonmetal mineral products 38.0 2.2 6.6 1.7
12 Crude petroleum 35.8 2.1 65.3 -0.9
13 Waste/scrap 30.7 1.8 -4.0 1.6
14 Wood products 28.1 1.7 -2.3 2.0
15 Other agricultural products 26.1 1.5 5.3 1.7
Other 205.2 12.1 -0.1 1.8
Total 1,693.5 100.0 -2.2 -0.7

n.e.c.=not elsewhere classified, USD=U.S. dollars
Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework, version 3.5 and 4.2, 2016 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4); however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value was adjusted for inflation.

Table 14. Top commodities moved by rail, by tonnage, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Value Billion USD 2015 Percent of USD Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
Historical (2007 to 2015) Forecasted (2015 to 2045)
1 Motorized vehicles 103.3 15.2 -3.6 2.1
2 Plastics/rubber 86.5 12.8 3.5 3.1
3 Basic chemicals 80.7 11.9 0.1 2.3
4 Cereal grains 53.6 7.9 6.4 0.9
5 Base metals 44.3 6.5 -4.9 1.4
6 Other foodstuffs 33.6 4.9 8.7 2.4
7 Coal-n.e.c. 30.1 4.4 -4.5 1.6
8 Crude petroleum 24.7 3.6 71.4 -0.9
9 Coal 23.7 3.5 -2.8 -1.0
10 Fertilizers 23.1 3.4 8.3 1.7
11 Gasoline 18.7 2.8 14.9 1.9
12 Newsprint/paper 17.6 2.6 -2.0 1.5
13 Other agricultural products 15.2 2.2 8.4 2.0
14 Chemical products 12.6 1.9 1.4 3.0
15 Machinery 11.2 1.6 -3.0 4.1
Other 99.4 14.7 -1.1 2.2
Total 678.3 100.0 0.4 2.0

n.e.c.=not elsewhere classified, USD=U.S. dollars
Source: BTS and FHWA, Freight Analysis Framework, version 3.5 and 4.1, 2016 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 to 2015; however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table.

Faced with declines and slow growth in coal and other bulk commodities transported by carload service, railroads have generally adopted the strategy of improving the competitiveness of their intermodal service to gain market share from trucks. Railroads have accomplished this by reducing travel times, improving reliability, and serving a wider variety of markets. As can be seen in Table 15, the majority of freight still used carload service, representing 90 percent of tons and 84 percent of ton-miles. However, since 2000 there has been a steady increase in the proportion of intermodal freight in terms of both tons and ton-miles. At the same time, rail shipments appear to be growing in length as railroads connect markets farther away from each other.

Table 15. Rail intermodal vs carload, 2000 to 2014.
Variables 2000 2010 2014 Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
2000 to 2010 2010 to 2014
Total Rail Tons (billion) 2.02 1.85 1.88 -0.9 0.5
Share Carload Tons 91.9 91.3 89.8 - -
Share Intermodal Tons 8.1 8.7 10.2 - -
Total Rail Ton-mile (trillion) 1.51 1.69 1.81 1.1 1.7
Share Carload Ton-miles 84.4 84.8 83.5 - -
Share Intermodal Ton-miles 15.6 15.2 16.5 - -
Rail Length of Haul (miles) 748 916 963 2.0 1.3
Carload Length of Haul (miles) 688 851 896 2.2 1.3
Intermodal Length of Haul (miles) 1,443 1,598 1,562 1.0 -0.6

Source: STB Public Waybill Samples 2000 - 2014 (https://www.stb.dot.gov/stb/industry/econ_waybill.html).

Table 16 highlights the commodity trends that are driving changes in intermodal and carload freight activity. Of the top six carload commodities, half have declined rapidly since 2010. Coal declined at 2.2 percent per year over this period, which affected rail greatly as it contributed to 40 percent of carload ton-miles in 2014. On the other hand, freight flows of crude petroleum have almost doubled each year since 2010, and shipments of nonmetallic minerals have grown substantially at 16 percent per year. Since 2010, intermodal ton-miles have grown three times faster than carload ton-miles. Most of this growth came from shipments of chemical products, apparel, food, and paper.

Table 16. Top carload commodities by rail service type, by ton miles, 2000 to 2014.
Rank Top Commodities by Ton-miles Billions of Ton-miles 2014 Percent of Ton-miles Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
2000 to 2010 2010 to 2014
1 Coal 614.2 40.6 2.3 -2.2
2 Chemical products 192.0 12.7 1.8 1.9
3 Agriculture 148.7 9.8 2.2 -2.5
4 Food 108.7 7.2 2.8 -1.5
5 Crude petroleum 88.7 5.9 28.6 95.2
6 Nonmetallic minerals 81.0 5.4 1.0 15.5
7 Lumber 48.6 3.2 -5.2 4.7
8 Refined petroleum products 42.7 2.8 0.8 3.5
9 Metal 42.2 2.8 -2.6 2.8
10 Paper 37.3 2.5 -2.9 -2.0
11 Transportation equipment 37.2 2.5 -4.1 7.3
12 Clay, concrete, glass 31.7 2.1 -3.1 3.1
13 Waste 17.7 1.2 -0.8 -2.3
14 Metallic ores 17.2 1.1 0.8 0.7
15 Hazardous materials 3.1 0.2 -9.6 -5.1
Other 3.1 0.2 -9.6 -5.1
Total 1,512.7 100.0 1.2 1.3

Source: STB Public Waybill Samples 2000 - 2014 (https://www.stb.dot.gov/stb/industry/econ_waybill.html).

Table 17. Top intermodal commodities by rail service type, by ton miles, 2000 to 2014.
Rank Top Intermodal Commodities by Ton-miles Billions of Ton-miles 2014 Percent of Ton-miles Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
2000 to 2010 2010 to 2014
1 Misc. mixed shipments 186.0 62.4 0.0 3.3
2 Food 21.2 7.1 3.9 5.6
3 Agriculture 13.8 4.6 19.1 0.7
4 Chemical products 11.1 3.7 3.9 17.1
5 Shipping containers 9.7 3.2 -0.2 -0.9
6 Paper 8.3 2.8 5.0 6.7
7 Apparel 7.2 2.4 9.2 12.9
8 Transportation equipment 7.2 2.4 0.9 9.7
9 Waste 4.4 1.5 7.5 0.3
10 Freight forwarder traffic 3.8 1.3 -2.9 -8.7
11 Rubber/plastics 3.7 1.2 8.3 0.6
12 Electrical equipment 2.6 0.9 5.2 7.9
13 Small packaged freight 2.6 0.9 5.2 7.9
14 Furniture 2.4 0.8 3.0 12.1
15 Metal products 1.9 0.6 9.5 2.7
Other 12.2 4.1 -4.1 2.1
Total 298.2 100.0 0.9 3.9

Source: STB Public Waybill Samples 2000 - 2014 (https://www.stb.dot.gov/stb/industry/econ_waybill.html).

Rail – Sector Characteristics

The railroad sector has undergone significant changes over the last 20 years. As Table 18 shows, track mileage has decreased rapidly since 1990 as the sector shed less profitable routes and focused on key corridors. Declines in total system mileage have occurred primarily in parts of the network owned by Class 1 and regional railroads, while the system miles owned by local railroads have grown over this period. Overall railroad productivity has soared, allowing railroads to move more freight with less. In 2012, Class 1 railroads owned 69 percent of system miles, with the remainder split between regional and local railroads.

Table 18. Rail industry characteristics, 1990 to 2013.
Key Variables 1990 2000 2010 2011 2012 2013 Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
1990 to 2000 2000 to 2011
System Miles - All Rail 175,909 170,512 138,576 138,518 138,477 - -0.31 -2.05
System Miles - Class 1 133,189 120,597 95,573 95,387 95,264 - -0.99 -2.30
System Miles - Regional 18,375 20,978 10,407 10,355 10,355 - 1.33 -6.77
System Miles - Local 24,337 28,937 32,596 32,776 32,858 - 1.75 1.20
Railroad Companies 530 560 565 567 - - 0.55 0.09
Class 1 Railroads 14 8 7 7 - - -5.44 -1.33
Other Railroads 516 552 558 560 - - 0.68 0.11
Class 1 Locomotives 18,835 20,028 23,893 24,250 24,707 25,033 0.62 1.78
Class 1 Freight Cars 658,902 560,154 397,730 380,699 380,641 373,838 -1.61 -3.37
Other Freight Cars 103,527 132,448 101,755 95,972 92,742 88,122 2.49 -2.60
Carloads (million) 21.4 27.8 29.2 30.0 28.4 28.8 2.64 0.51
Revenue Ton-miles (trillion) 1.03 1.47 1.69 1.73 1.71 1.74 3.55 1.44
Tons (billions) 1.42 1.74 1.85 1.85 1.76 1.76 2.01 2.01

Source: AAR Railroad Facts 2014 Edition; BTS National Transportation Statistics (http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_11.html).

Waterborne – Commodities Moved

The rapid increase of international trade over the past decades, especially across the Pacific Ocean, has given added importance to ports and other waterborne infrastructure in the U.S. economy. Unlike the commodity tables for other modes that have focused on freight movements within the country, Table 19 includes both domestic and international shipments. It is necessary to include international shipments because waterborne transportation plays a more important role in connecting America to the rest of the world than moving goods internally—around 72 percent of international trade tons leave or enter the United States by water.

Energy commodities such as crude petroleum, gasoline, coal, and fuel oils represent the top four commodities by tonnage, accounting for 48 percent of all tons in 2015. From 2007 to 2015, crude, petroleum, and cereal grains decreased substantially, although increases in fuel oils, coal, gasoline, and other agriculture products partially offset these declines.

Crude petroleum is also a top commodity handled in terms of value, although consumer goods on international shipments play a larger role by this metric. Motorized vehicles, machinery, electronics, and textiles are the top commodities moved in terms of value and are likely to continue growing through 2045 as international trade continues to expand. Indeed, FAF projects waterborne tons to grow at 2.6 percent per year and value to grow at 3.9 percent per year, which is significantly faster than looking just at domestic waterborne cargo (Table 19 and 20).

Table 19. Top commodities moved by domestic and international waterborne, by tonnage, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Tonnage Million Tons 2015 Percent of Tons Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
Historical (2007 to 2015) Forecasted (2015 to 2045)
1 Crude petroleum 265.8 19.1 -6.3 0.3
2 Fuel Oils 192.7 13.8 8.5 1.4
3 Coal 127.8 9.2 7.0 1.3
4 Chemical products 11.1 3.7 3.9 17.1
5 Cereal grains 82.9 5.9 -1.9 2.5
6 Other agricultural products 70.6 5.1 4.5 4.3
7 Basic chemicals 57.1 4.1 0.5 4.1
8 Nonmetallic minerals 41.8 3.0 -5.1 1.6
9 Waste/scrap 40.4 2.9 0.3 4.9
10 Base metals 38.6 2.8 1.1 1.9
11 Metallic ores 37.7 2.7 0.1 1.6
12 Other foodstuffs 33.5 2.4 4.8 4.1
13 Plastics/rubber 29.0 2.1 1.6 4.6
14 Machinery 24.6 1.8 5.1 4.7
15 Fertilizers 24.0 1.7 2.4 1.3
Other commodities 245.6 17.6 -3.8 4.3
Total 1,394.8 100.0 -0.7 2.6

Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework 3.5 and 4.2 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4); however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value adjusted for inflation.

Table 20. Top commodities moved by domestic and international waterborne, by value, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Value Billions USD 2015 Percent of USD Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
Historical (2007 to 2015) Forecasted (2015 to 2045)
1 Motorized vehicles 197.6 9.8 1.2 2.8
2 Machinery 173.2 8.6 0.9 4.8
3 Crude petroleum 172.9 8.6 -3.1 0.2
4 Electronics 171.9 8.5 4.4 5.2
5 Textiles/leather 144.8 7.2 1.8 4.0
6 Fuel oils 135.6 6.7 14.0 1.5
7 Plastics/rubber 94.3 4.7 3.9 4.5
8 Basic chemicals 83.6 4.1 2.8 4.2
9 Gasoline 75.1 3.7 9.1 0.2
10 Other agricultural products 68.0 3.4 8.6 4.4
11 Articles-base metal 60.4 3.0 2.7 3.2
12 Base metals 59.3 2.9 2.7 3.2
13 Misc. manufacturing products 54.4 2.7 0.3 4.7
14 Other foodstuffs 48.5 2.4 7.3 4.1
15 Chemical products 46.5 2.3 3.9 5.5
Other commodities 429.3 21.3 4.3 4.6
Total 2,015.4 100.0 3.0 3.9

USD=U.S. dollars
Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework 3.5 and 4.2 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4); however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value was adjusted for inflation.

Waterborne – Main Ports

As Table 21 shows, on average, half of the tonnage handled at U.S. ports is domestic and the rest comprises either imports or exports. The Port of South Louisiana, Port of New Orleans, and Port of Baton Rouge handle a high proportion of domestic cargo, while ports on the West Coast, such as the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, primarily receive imports from Asia. Just 10 deep-water ports (that can accept large ships due to having water depth of 30 feet or more) are responsible for 65 percent of the value of containerized international trade.

Since 2010, the ports that have seen the fastest growth in tonnage have been the Port of South Louisiana, Port of Beaumont, Port of Corpus Christi, Port of New Orleans, and Port of Baton Rouge. It is uncertain how exactly the Panama Canal expansion will affect international shipping; however, the potential exists for this project to have a substantial impact on the geography of maritime transport. To take advantage of these changes many ports have invested significantly in dredging and deepening projects to accommodate larger ships, affecting their competitive position moving forward.

Table 21. Top ports by total tons, 2014.
Rank Top Ports by Tons 2014 Average Annual Growth Rate of Total Tons (percent)
Total Million Tons Percent Domestic Percent Imports Percent Exports 2000 to 2010 2010 to 2014
1 South Louisiana, Louisiana, Port 267.4 53 15 32 0.9 3.1
2 Houston, Texas 234.3 31 33 36 2.0 0.8
3 New York, New York and New Jersey 126.2 37 48 15 0.1 -2.4
4 Beaumont, Texas 87.3 39 45 16 0.0 3.2
5 Long Beach, California 85.0 13 56 31 0.8 3.0
6 Corpus Christi, Texas 84.9 47 31 22 -1.0 3.6
7 New Orleans, Louisiana 84.5 56 21 23 -2.2 3.9
8 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 69.2 62 19 20 -1.6 5.6
9 Mobile, Alabama 64.3 43 28 29 0.4 3.6
10 Los Angeles, California 61.0 9 56 34 2.6 -0.6
11 Lake Charles, Louisiana 56.8 49 35 15 0.3 1.0
12 Plaquemines, Louisiana, Port of 55.5 64 4 32 -0.7 -0.2
13 Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky, Ports 49.9 100 0 0 - -
14 Norfolk Harbor, Virginia 48.0 13 22 66 0.2 3.7
15 Texas City, Texas 47.9 39 32 28 -0.3 -4.1
16 Huntington - Tristate 46.4 100 0 0 - -
17 St. Louis, Missouri and Illinois 38.9 100 0 0 -0.8 6.0
18 Duluth-Superior, Minnesota and Wisconsin 37.4 76 2 22 -1.3 0.5
19 Baltimore, Maryland 37.2 18 35 47 -0.3 -1.6
20 Port Arthur, Texas 36.7 30 20 50 3.9 4.9
Other ports 986.8 55 25 20 - -
Total Top 150 Ports 2,605.5 49 26 24 - -

Source: USACE US Waterway Data, Principal Ports of the United States (http://www.navigationdatacenter.us/data/datappor.htm).

There are approximately 360 commercial sea, river, and lake ports with 3,200 cargo and passenger terminals. Inland navigation is possible through an extensive network of 12,000 miles of waterways and 240 locks and dams. More than 38,000 domestic maritime vessels, including tugs, barges, and oceangoing ships, use these waterways.

Some ports specialize in the handling of containers on international shipments. Table 22 shows the number of containers passing through the top 20 ports in the U.S. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handled 32 percent of all containerized cargo. Along with the Ports of Oakland and Seattle, these serve as the main gateways for trade with Asia. On the East Coast, the Ports of New York/New Jersey, Savannah, and Hampton Roads are the largest handlers of containerized cargo. Inland access from the ports is provided by trucks and intermodal railroads.

Table 22. Top ports by Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit, 2015.
Rank Top Ports by TEUs Millions of TEUs 2015 Percent Change 2014 to 2015
1 Los Angeles, California 8.16 -2.20
2 Long Beach, California 7.19 5.40
3 New York/New Jersey 6.37 10.40
4 Savannah, Georgia 3.74 11.70
5 Seattle/Tacoma Alliance, Washington 3.53 4.00
6 Hampton Roads, Virginia 2.55 6.50
7 Oakland, California 2.28 -4.90
8 Houston, Texas 2.13 9.20
9 Charleston, South Carolina 1.97 10.10
10 Honolulu, Hawaii (FY) 1.21 7.60
11 San Juan, Puerto Rico (FY) 1.21 -8.30
12 Port Everglades, Florida (FY) 1.06 4.70
13 Miami, Florida (FY) 1.01 15.00
14 Jacksonville, Florida (FY) 0.92 -2.30
15 Baltimore, Maryland 0.84 9.10
16 New Orleans, Louisiana 0.52 7.00
17 Anchorage, Alaska 0.49 -16.90
18 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 0.43 -4.80
19 Wilmington, Delaware 0.34 0.90
20 Wilmington, North Carolina 0.34 0.90
Other 1.87 -4.50
Total US Ports 48.11 3.80

TEU=twenty-foot equivalent units, FY=fiscal year
Source: American Association of Port Authorities, NAFTA Container Port Ranking 2015 (http://www.aapa-ports.org/unifying/content.aspx?ItemNumber=21048).

Air – Commodities Moved

Air freight specializes in high value commodities that are time-sensitive. Table 23 shows that electronics and machinery represent the top commodities for air, combining to make up more than 30 percent of all tons shipped and more than 40 percent of all value shipped. From 2007 to 2015, many of the top commodities in terms of tonnage decreased, primarily because of the economic recession. This led the air sector as a whole to decline by 2.3 percent per year over that time. However, some commodities saw substantial growth, including meat/seafood, animal feed, and motorized vehicles. Looking into the future, the FAF projects air cargo to be the fastest growing freight mode in the United States, with tonnages growing at 4.3 percent per year and value growing at 5.0 percent per year. FAF predicts that almost all air cargo commodities will see substantial growth, with electronics, machinery, precision instruments, and pharmaceuticals growing the fastest. Tables 23 and 24 include freight shipments of more than 100 pounds moved by commercial or private aircraft providing freighter or express service.

Table 23. Top commodities moved by domestic or international air, by tonnage, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Tonnage Million Tons 2015 Percent of Tons Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
Historical (2007 to 2015) Forecasted (2015 to 2045)
1 Electronics 2.11 19.9 0.3 5.0
2 Machinery 1.26 11.9 -6.6 4.7
3 Textiles/leather 0.81 7.7 -3.0 3.8
4 Other agricultural products 0.71 6.4 -1.2 4.6
5 Precision Instruments 0.66 6.2 -0.7 5.7
6 Motorized vehicles 0.57 5.4 3.2 1.7
7 Articles-base metal 0.48 4.6 -1.9 3.7
8 Plastics/rubber 0.45 4.2 -1.7 4.3
9 Meat/seafood 0.43 4.0 17.3 3.1
10 Chemical products 0.38 3.6 -4.9 5.1
11 Animal feed 0.37 3.5 38.0 3.1
12 Misc. manufacturing products 0.36 3.4 -4.5 4.0
13 Basic chemicals 0.26 2.4 2.7 3.6
14 Pharmaceuticals 0.25 2.4 -0.1 5.0
15 Transport equipment 0.23 2.2 4.0 4.0
Other commodities 0.25 11.8 -8.8 3.5
Total 10.58 100.0 -2.3 4.3

Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework 3.5 and 4.2 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4), however these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value adjusted for inflation.

Table 24. Top commodities moved by domestic or international air, by value, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Value Billions USD 2015 Percent of USD Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
Historical (2007 to 2015) Forecasted (2015 to 2045)
1 Electronics 392.1 31.8 2.6 5.2
2 Misc. mfg. products 162.5 13.2 0.5 5.0
3 Precision instruments 13.2 0.5 0.5 5.0
4 Machinery 128.6 10.4 -8.2 4.8
5 Pharmaceuticals 99.6 8.1 1.9 5.1
6 Transportation equipment 79.8 6.5 0.1 4.1
7 Basic chemicals 78.2 6.3 10.0 4.1
8 Textiles/leather 27.9 2.3 -2.8 3.7
9 Motorized vehicles 23.2 1.9 8.1 2.0
10 Chemical products 22.1 1.8 1.0 5.2
11 Articles-base metal 16.4 1.3 2.5 3.6
12 Plastics/rubber 14.3 1.2 3.1 4.4
13 Mixed freight 11.7 1.0 -12.9 4.4
14 Nonmetal mineral products 5.9 0.5 0.5 4.4
15 Waste/scrap 5.3 0.4 5.6
Other commodities 32.8 2.7 1.9 3.8
Total 1,232.4 100.0 0.0 5.0

USD=U.S. dollars
Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework 3.5 and 4.2 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4), however these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value was adjusted for inflation.

Air – Main Airports

As Table 25 demonstrates, the airport that lands the most tons in the United States is Memphis International Airport, which is the air hub of FedEx. The airport with the second highest tonnage is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, although the majority of tons landed never leave the airport because freighter airlines use it primarily as a refueling stop on international flights between Asia and the United States. The airport with the third highest tonnage is Louisville International Airport, which is the air hub of United Parcel Service. Currently more than 500 commercial airports and thousands of general aviation airports handle air cargo throughout the country.

Table 25. Top airports by air cargo, 2000 to 2013.
Rank Airport Code Top Airports by Landed Tons Millions of Tons 2013 Percent of Tons Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
2000 to 2010 2010 to 2013
1 MEM Memphis Intl. 4.58 13.6 33.2 2.0
2 ANC Ted Stevens Anchorage Intl. 4.06 12.1 4.9 -7.1
3 SDF Louisville International Airport 2.45 7.3 49.5 0.8
4 LAX Los Angeles Intl. 2.03 6.0 2.2 0.5
5 MIA Miami Intl. 2.11 6.3 3.1 1.3
6 ORD Chicago O'Hare Intl. 1.57 4.7 3.2 -3.0
7 JFK John F Kennedy Intl. 1.45 4.3 -0.7 -4.1
8 IND Indianapolis Intl. 1.10 3.3 32.4 1.9
9 ATL Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Intl. 0.79 2.3 0.2 -1.7
10 DFW Dallas Fort Worth Intl. 0.75 2.2 5.8 -3.4
11 EWR Newark Liberty Intl. 0.74 2.2 6.0 -7.4
12 CVG Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Intl. 0.66 2.0 7.5 15.4
13 OAK Metropolitan Oakland Intl. 0.57 1.7 29.8 0.5
14 HNL Honolulu Intl. 0.63 1.9 4.0 0.8
15 SFO San Francisco Intl. 0.50 1.5 -5.7 -1.7
16 IAH George Bush Intercontinental 0.50 1.5 6.1 -1.0
17 ONT Ontario Intl. 0.47 1.4 34.0 0.4
18 PHL Philadelphia Intl. 0.48 1.4 9.3 -2.7
19 SEA Seattle Tacoma Intl. 0.41 1.2 2.8 -0.9
20 PHX Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl. 0.29 0.9 5.9 0.9
Other Airports 7.46 22.2 7.2 -1.8
Total 33.61 100.0 6.9 -1.4

Intl=International
Source: BTS, T-100 Segment Data, 2000 - 2013 (http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=293).
Note: Considers airports with landed weight in excess of 100 million pounds.

Pipeline – Commodities Moved

Pipelines are an important part of the freight transportation system, delivering energy commodities to consumers around the United States or acting as gateways for energy exports to foreign markets. Pipelines move the second highest volume in terms of tonnage and third highest value in terms of dollars. As Table 26 shows, 64.5 percent of the tonnage carried by pipeline is coal-n.e.c., which mostly consists of natural gas and petroleum products. The introduction of new technologies in the extraction of natural gas has increased U.S. production considerably, leading to substantial growth from 2007 to 2015. Looking out to 2045, FAF expects the growth for this commodity to slow but still remain positive.

Table 26. Top commodities moved by pipeline, by tonnage, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Tonnage Million Tons 2015 Percent of Tons Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
Historical (2007 to 2015) Forecasted (2015 to 2045)
1 Coal-n.e.c. 2,127.3 64.5 16.2 1.5
2 Crude petroleum 448.1 13.6 1.0 -0.2
3 Gasoline 385.5 11.7 1.5 0.0
4 Fuel oils 302.8 9.2 4.3 0.0
5 Basic chemicals 34.1 1.0 -4.6 2.3
Other 2.7 0.1 24.7 1.4
Total 3,300.4 100.0 9.0 1.1

n.e.c.= not elsewhere classified, USD=U.S. dollars
Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework 3.5 and 4.2 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4); however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value adjusted for inflation. Changes in the methodology used to account for natural gas from 2007 to 2015 could lead this table to overestimate the growth observed during this time period.

Table 27. Top commodities moved by pipeline, by value, 2007 to 2045.
Rank Top Commodities by Tonnage Billion USD 2015 Percent of USD Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)
Historical (2007 to 2015) Forecasted (2015 to 2045)
1 Coal-n.e.c. 554.8 37.2 9.1 1.7
2 Gasoline 364.4 24.4 4.8 -0.1
3 Crude petroleum 299.9 20.1 4.8 -0.3
4 Fuel oils 241.6 16.2 7.7 0.0
5 Basic chemicals 29.4 2.0 -1.4 2.4
Other 1.7 0.1 9.4 2.6
Total 1,491.9 100.0 6.5 0.7

n.e.c.= not elsewhere classified, USD=U.S. dollars
Source: BTS and FHWA Freight Analysis Framework 3.5 and 4.2 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf/index.htm).
Note: FAF made specific revisions to its modal and commodity definitions from 2007 (version 3) to 2015 (version 4); however, these changes are unlikely to alter significantly the tendency of the historical results shown in this table. Value adjusted for inflation. Changes in the methodology used to account for natural gas from 2007 to 2015 could lead this table to overestimate the growth observed during this time period.

As Table 28 demonstrates, there are more than 2.4 million miles of pipeline in the United States serving a variety of functions. The majority, around 93 percent, are used for natural gas (including distribution). Mileage in natural gas pipelines has grown on average 1.2 percent per year from 2004 to 2010, slowing to 0.6 percent per year from 2010 to 2014.

Table 28. Extent of pipeline network, 2004 to 2014.
Pipeline Use Thousand Miles 2014 Percent of Miles Average Annual Growth (percent)
2004 to 2010 2004 to 2010
Natural gas pipeline 2,253.7 93.1 1.2 0.6
Distribution main lines 1,142.3 47.2 1.2 0.7
Distribution service lines 783.5 32.4 1.8 0.9
Transmission 303.0 12.5 0.1 -0.2
Gathering 25.0 1.0 -3.9 -2.7
Oil 111.7 4.6 1.1 1.8
Crude oil 49.3 2.0 1.7 5.1
Refined petroleum 62.4 2.6 0.6 -1.2
Highly volatile liquids 51.8 2.1 1.9 3.2
Other 3.2 0.1 6.0 4.0
Total 2,420.4 100.0 1.3 0.8

Source: USDOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Annual Report Mileage Summary Statistics (http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/portal/site/PHMSA/).

Around 4.6 percent of pipeline mileage involves the transportation of crude oil or refined petroleum products. Oil pipeline mileage increased after 2010, especially for crude oil, which grew at 5.1 percent per year. This growth has come from the resurgence of domestic crude oil production, especially in the Bakken fields in North Dakota and Montana and the Eagle Ford and Permian Basins in Texas.

According to the NFSP (https://www.transportation.gov/freight/NFSP), even though the pipeline network is extensive, it is better positioned to move crude oil imports than the new domestic production. However, recent volatility in international oil markets has slowed to a halt investments in new pipeline capacity.

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