October Freight Transportation Services Index is mixed, reports BTS

By LM Staff ·

December 15, 2020

The United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) recently reported that its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) saw a sequential gain and an annual decrease for October, the most recent month for which data is available.

According to BTS officials, the Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments in ton-miles, which are then combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and airfreight.

The October reading—at 131.7—was up 0.1% compared to September, up sequentially for the second straight month, and was down 4.5% compared to October 2019. The October reading is 6.9% below the all-time high of 141.5 recorded in August 2019.

BTS officials said that the October Freight TSI was almost unchanged in October, due to growth in water, rail, intermodal, rail carload, pipeline, and airfreight, even though trucking saw a decline.

And BTS also observed the following data points related to the most recent Freight TSI reading, including:

  • the Freight TSI has been up sequentially five of the last six months through October, following three months of declines;
  • over the course of the pandemic, the Freight TSI was down 8.1% from January through April, up 5.7% from April to July, a 1.1% decrease from July to August, followed by small increases in September and October;
  • October for-hire freight shipments came in 38.8% higher than the April 2009 low—at 94.9—during the recession; and
  • October for-hire freight shipments on a year-to-date basis through October are off 3.6% annually



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