2016 Freight Quick Facts Report
2. Impacts and Performance
The freight transportation sector plays a fundamental role in the U.S. economy, enabling commerce, trade, and other economic activities. Table 29 provides an overview of its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP). Total U.S. GDP (in chained 2009 dollars) reached $15.6 trillion in 2013, after growing at an average pace of 1.6 percent per year from 2000 to 2010 (in spite of the economic recession), and 1.8 percent from 2010 to 2013 in real terms. Population increases and productivity improvements fueled this growth.
In 2013, 8.9 percent of U.S. GDP came from the transportation sector, including both passenger and freight modes. From 2000 to 2010, transportation expenditures decreased but then rebounded, growing at an average rate of 3.4 percent per year until 2013. The proportion of GDP spent on the transportation sector has been decreasing over the past decades.
Freight can either be transported by shippers themselves with their own equipment (in-house) or by contracted, specialized firms (for-hire). Certain specialized logistics providers (such as third party logistics providers, or 3PLs, and the specialized providers referenced generally by the new term "4PLs") also provide a wide range of supply-chain services, including warehousing, inventory management, and transportation. The for-hire freight transportation sector accounted for $440.5 billion in 2013 (chained 2009 dollars), representing 2.8 percent of the U.S. economy. As a proportion of the transportation sector, for-hire freight transportation accounts for almost 32 percent of income. It is likely that Table 29 underestimates the size of the freight sector because it only considers for-hire services; companies with in-house transportation capabilities are not considered. The proportion of the whole economy dedicated to for-hire freight transportation has remained fairly constant since 2000, which has important implications as the U.S. economy is expected to double in size over the next 30 years.
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) legislation integrates performance into many federal transportation programs and contains several performance elements. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is in the process of promulgating a rulemaking in consultation with States, metropolitan planning organizations, and other stakeholders in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 150. The requirements for freight performance measurement in the new National Highway Freight Program will measure freight movement and reliability on the Interstate System.
|Economic Variables||2000||2010||2013||Average Annual Growth (percent)|
|2000 to 2010||2010 to 2013|
|U.S. GDP (billions of chained 2009 $)||12,559.7||14,783.8||15,583.3||1.64||1.77|
|Total transportation-related GDP (billions of chained 2009 $)||1,347.9||1,251.2||1,381.8||-0.74||3.36|
|Percent of GDP in transportation||10.7||8.5||8.9||-||-|
|Total for-hire transportation services GDP (billions of chained 2009 $)||379.9||421.4||440.5||1.04||1.49|
|Percent of GDP in for-hire transportation services||3.0||2.9||2.8||-||-|
|Total U.S. labor force (thousand)||132,019||130,275||136,368||-0.13||1.54|
|Employment in transportation and warehousing (thousands)||4,410||4,191||4,495||-0.51||2.36|
|Percent of labor force in transportation and warehousing||3.3||3.2||3.3||-||-|
GDP=gross domestic product
Source: US Census Bureau (http://www.census.gov/); BTS National Transportation Statistics, Tables 3-4, 3-4 and 3-23 (http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/index.html#chapter_3
Moving more than 18 billion tons each year, often across the country, requires a significant amount of energy. Table 30 contains estimates of the energy consumption of four key freight modes. Trucking is the mode that consumes the most energy today, even though total energy consumption has decreased over 1.3 percent per year since 2007. Initially the economic recession caused these declines, but since then, the positive trend has continued as truck fuel efficiency continues to inch upward, as shown in Table 31. The introduction of a wide range of fuel saving technologies in long-haul trucking, such as improvements in aerodynamics and low-rolling-resistance tires, has improved the fuel efficiency of modern trucks and will continue achieving energy savings as a greater proportion of the fleet is retrofitted.
|Freight Mode||2000||2010||2013||Average Annual Growth (percent)|
|2007 to 2010||2010 to 2013|
|Class I rail||567||488||515||-4.9||1.8|
BTU=British thermal unit
Source: BTS Freight Facts and Figures 2015, Table 6-7 (http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/data_and_statistics/by_subject/freight/freight_facts_2015/chapter6/table6_7).
Total energy consumption by Class 1 railroads decreased from 2007 to 2010, but increased after 2010 due to increases in rail tonnage, which offset noteworthy improvements in rail fuel efficiency. In general, trains are getting longer, taller and heavier, carrying more freight with each unit of energy consumed.
|Freight Mode||1990||2000||2010||2013||Average Annual Growth (percent)|
|1990 to 2000||2000 to 2010||2010 to 2013|
|Single-unit trucks (miles/diesel gallon)||6.2||7.4||7.3||7.3||1.79||-0.14||0.00|
|Combination trucks (miles/diesel gallon)||5.8||5.3||5.9||5.8||-0.90||1.08||-0.57|
|Class 1 freight rail (ton-miles/diesel gallon)||329.9||394.1||480.5||468.9||1.79||2.00||-0.47|
|Domestic aircraft operations (miles/gallon)||0.32||0.41||0.54||0.59||2.51||2.79||3.00|
Source: BTS National Transportation Statistics, Tables 4-8, 4-13 and 4-14 (http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/index.html); AAR Railroad Facts 2014 Edition, pp. 63.
The energy sources used in freight transportation tend to have a large carbon footprint. As can be seen in Table 32, in 2013 freight transportation contributed to 7.7 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, representing 29 percent of all transportation-related emissions. Since 2000, emissions from the freight sector have been steadily increasing due to rising freight volumes, while emissions from the other transportation sectors and the rest of the economy have been decreasing. As can be seen in Table 33, most of the growth in greenhouse gas emissions has come from the trucking sector, although this growth slowed down after 2010. On the flipside, emissions from rail and pipelines appear to have accelerated since 2010. If the Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) forecast is realized, trucking will generate an even larger proportion of future freight-generated greenhouse gas emissions.
|Freight Mode||2000||2010||2013||2014||Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)|
|2000 to 2010||2010 to 2013|
|U.S. total (MMTCO2eq)||7,259.0||6,985.0||6,800.0||6,870.0||-0.38||-0.41|
|Transportation sector (MMTCO2eq)||1,926.70||1,832.00||1,794.00||1,814.50||-0.50||-0.24|
|Percent transportation of total||26.5||26.2||26.4||26.4||-||-|
|Freight transportation sector (MMTCO2eq)||496.1||509.6||513||518.3||0.27||0.42|
|Percent freight of total||6.8||7.3||7.0||7.5||-||-|
MMTC02eq= million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent
Source: US EPA Draft U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report: 1990 - 2014, Figure 2-1 and ANNEX 3 Table A-118 (https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/ghgemissions/US-GHG-Inventory-2016-Annex-3-Additional-Source-or-Sink-Categories.pdf).
|Freight Mode||2000||2010||2013||2014||Average Annual Growth Rate (percent)|
|2000 to 2010||2010 to 2013|
|Ships and other boats||48.1||28.5||15.7||6.3||-5.1||-31.4|
Source: US EPA Draft U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report: 1990 - 2014, ANNEX 3 Table A-118 (https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/ghgemissions/US-GHG-Inventory-2016-Annex-3-Additional-Source-or-Sink-Categories.pdf).
The combustion of fossil fuels not only generates significant quantities of greenhouse gas emissions, it also leads to the emission of several additional air pollutants that are detrimental to the environment and human health. The amount of air pollution that each freight mode emits depends on the type of control technology installed, operational characteristics, and atmospheric conditions, among other variables. In addition, air pollution near urban areas will have a greater adverse impact than in sparsely populated areas. Table 34 provides an estimate of the average emission rates of three key air quality pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.
Looking into the future, the implementation of stricter environmental regulations (e.g., curbing criteria pollutants and mitigating climate change) and continued improvements in vehicle technology will reduce emission rates in the coming years. Emissions of particulate matter are expected to improve the fastest for both trucks and rail, as already strict environmental standards are expected to be further tightened. Emissions of nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds are also expected to improve substantially.
|Types of Emissions||2015||2030||2040||Percentage of Forecasted Annual Improvement (2015 to 2040)|
|Combination Trucks||NOx grams/mile||9.02||2.48||2.04||-5.8|
|Single-Unit Trucks||NOx grams/mile||4.09||0.94||0.81||-6.3|
|Freight Rail||NOx grams/mile||0.2671||0.0878||0.0400||-7.3|
NOx=nitrous oxide, PM10=particulate matter 10 microns, VOC=volatile organic compound, CO2= carbon dioxide
Source: Truck rates are from nationwide simulation of EPA MOVES 2014a (https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/models/moves/). Rail rates are from EPA Emission Factors for Locomotives (https://www3.epa.gov/nonroad/locomotv/420f09025.pdf), EPA-420-F-09-025 April 2009 using fuel efficiency from AAR Railroad Facts 2014 Edition, pp. 63.
The freight transportation sector comes into contact with millions of people each day, from employees in the various freight modes to passengers on non-freight modes. Ensuring the safety of all these people is a top priority. Table 35 provides an overview of the injuries and fatalities related to four key freight modes and uses estimates of freight activity to estimate accident rates. In 2013 freight movement contributed to 4,507 fatalities and 99,122 injuries in the United States, representing 13 percent of all transportation-related fatalities.
Trucking is responsible for the majority of these accidents, accounting for 87.9 percent of fatalities and 95.8 percent of injuries. However, from 2000 to 2013, the total number of trucking-related fatalities decreased by 2.2 percent per year, and injuries decreased by 2.9 percent per year. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 1.8 percent of the drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, which is significantly lower than the 22.1 percent found in passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes. Rail-related fatalities and injuries also decreased sharply over this time period, in part because of investments to improve highway-rail crossings.
The rate of fatalities and injuries per ton-mile in truck transportation is many times greater than that for other freight modes, even though it has decreased significantly since 2000.
|Fatalities||2013||Annual Growth Rate 2000 to 2013 (percent)||Injuries||2013||Annual Growth Rate 2000 to 2013 (percent)|
|Truck fatalities||3,964||-2.2||Truck Injuries||95,000||-2.9|
|Railroad fatalities||509||-2.6||Railroad injuries||3,977||-5.1|
|Waterborne fatalities||25||-3.9||Waterborne injuries||100||4.7|
|Pipeline fatalities||9||-10.5||Pipeline injuries||45||-4.4|
|Total Freight Fatalities||4,507||-2.3||Total Freight Injuries||99,122||-3.0|
|Truck fatalities/billion ton-miles||1.375||-3.6||Truck injuries/billion ton-miles||32.953||-4.4|
|Railroad fatalities/billion ton-miles||0.278||-3.7||Railroad injuries/billion ton-miles||2.172||-6.2|
|Waterborne fatalities/billion ton-miles||0.050||-2.0||Waterborne injuries/billion ton-miles||0.199||6.8|
|Pipeline fatalities/billion ton-miles||0.008||-11.1||Pipeline injuries/billion ton-miles||0.042||-5.1|
|Total fatalities/billion ton-miles||0.717||-3.2||Total injuries/billion ton-miles||15.779||-3.9|
Note: Trucks include vehicles with gross vehicle weight ratings at or over 10,000 pounds.
Source: BTS Freight Facts and Figures 2015, Table 6-1 (http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/data_and_statistics/by_subject/freight/freight_facts_2015/chapter6/table6_1) and Table 6-2 (http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/data_and_statistics/by_subject/freight/freight_facts_2015/chapter6/table6_2). Also, 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).
Congestion is costly for the freight transportation system, especially for the trucking industry. Sitting in traffic leads to higher fuel consumption, longer travel times, and unreliable delivery times. The draft National Freight Strategic Plan (NFSP) (https://www.transportation.gov/freight/NFSP) estimated these congestions costs total more than $27 billion each year.
The growth and increasing urbanization of the U.S. population will exacerbate congestion unless drastic actions are taken. The U.S. population is expected to grow by 68 million by 2045 and the majority will live in already congested urban and suburban areas. The proportion of the population living in these areas will reach 90 percent by 2040, from 84 percent in 2010 and 77 percent in 1980. Not only are more people likely to live in urban areas, but the freight transportation system is going to increase its reliance on trucks, as can be seen in Table 4. This will increase roadway congestion, making it more difficult and costly to move goods to and from intermodal infrastructure that is often located in cities, such as ports, rail yards and airports.
Table 36 provides an overview of how congestion has evolved in U.S. cities since 2000. As expected, most congestion costs, congestion costs per capita, and wasted fuel combustion, occur in the largest cities. However, a clear trend is evident in which medium-size cities show the fastest growth in congestion.
|Population Level||Average Annual Highway Congestion Cost Per Urban Area||Average Annual Highway Congestion Cost per Commuter||Average Annual Gallons of Fuel Wasted per Urban Area|
|Million USD in 2014||Average Real Growth Rate 2000 to 2014 (percent)||USD in 2014||Average Real Growth Rate 2000 to 2014 (percent)||Million Gallons in 2014||Average Growth Rate 2000 to 2014 (percent)|
|≥ 3 million||5,259||-0.4||1,433||-0.4||99.5||2.0|
|1 million to < 3 million||1,281||0.4||1,045||0.4||25.7||2.7|
|500,000 to < 1 million||474||0.3||867||0.1||9.8||2.5|
|101 urban area average||1,371||0.0||1,189||-0.2||26.7||2.3|
|471 urban area average||338||4.8||960||0.0||6.6||4.6|
Source: BTS National Transportation Statistics, Table 1-72 (http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_72.html) and Table 4-28 (http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_04_28.html).
Note: Findings from the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard include 101 urban areas. Averages from that report are referenced in this table. The report also includes individual congestion statistics for 370 other urban areas (totaling 471), averages for which are also referenced.
Table 37 provides an overview of how road conditions in the United States have changed since 2000. Many metrics can be used to assess roadway condition; however, the International Roughness Index is used in this case because of its popularity. From this, it appears that the condition of urban roads has worsened, especially on interstates and other freeways, while rural road conditions have improved. Trucks are responsible for a disproportionate amount of pavement deterioration because of their heavy axle loads. Currently, the Federal truck weight limit is set at 80,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight, 20,000 lbs. for single axles, and 34,000 lbs. for tandem axles. Some bridges have lower weight limits based on specific restrictions.
|Types of Roadway||2000||2013||Average Annual Growth Rate 2000 to 2013 (percent)|
|Rural - Interstates||2.1||2.4||1.0|
|Rural - Other principal arterials||4.0||4.9||1.6|
|Rural - Minor Arterials||7.0||7.2||0.2|
|Rural - Major collectors||22.1||19.7||-0.9|
|Urban - Interstates||6.5||5.1||-1.8|
|Urban - Other freeways and expressway||10.9||7.2||-3.1|
|Urban - Other principal arterials||30.0||25.8||-1.2|
|Urban - Minor arterials||33.7||38.2||1.0|
|Urban - Collectors||52.3||53.7||0.2|