US Trucking Activity Up Nearly 40% Since Great Recession

Newly released U.S. Transportation Department figures show that trucking posting the second-highest increase of all freight modes since the end of the Great Recession.

Trucking’s growth of 37.8% was bested only by rail intermodal, which rose 50.6% from June 2009 through December 2016, as measured by the department’s freight Transportation Service Index. The index measures month-to-month changes in for-hire freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index.

The seasonally adjusted index showed trucking’s growth was followed by the modes of pipeline at 29.6%, water­borne at 23.2%, and air freight at 21.7%. During this period the overall freight TSI rose 29.7%.

The sole exception was rail carloads, which declined 0.8%. The drop in rail carload shipments took place at the same time as a decline in coal shipments.

All freight transportation modes declined during the recession, and the freight TSI fell 16.3% from January 2008 to its low point in April 2009. The biggest decline was in the air freight index, 26.5%, followed by rail carloads, 23%; waterborne, 18.6%; rail intermodal, 18.1%; trucking, 14.5%; and pipeline, 4.7%.

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