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Introduction

This 11th edition of Freight Facts and Figures was developed by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. It provides a snapshot of the volume and value of freight flows in the United States; the extent, condition, and performance of the physical network over which freight moves; the economic conditions that generate freight movements; the industry that carries freight; and the safety, energy, and environmental implications of freight transportation. This snapshot helps decision- makers, planners, and the public understand the magnitude and importance of freight transportation to the economy. An electronic version of this publication is available at www.bts.gov and freight.dot.gov.

Chapter 1 summarizes the basic demographic and economic characteristics of  the United States that contribute to the demand for raw materials, intermediate goods, and finished products. Chapter 2 identifies the freight that is moved and highlights international trade. Chapter 3 describes the extent and condition of  the freight transportation system; volumes of freight moving over the system; and the amount of highway, air, rail, port, and pipeline activities required to move that freight. Chapter 4 presents information on transportation system performance and its effect on freight movement. Chapter 5 focuses on the economic characteristics of the transportation industry that operates the system. Chapter 6 covers the safety aspects, energy consumption, and environmental implications of freight transportation.

Several of the tables and figures in this report are based on the Economic Census, which is conducted once every 5 years, except for data tables requiring distance estimation, which are collectively underway for the last Commodity Flow Survey (CFS). The most recently published Census data are for 2012, except for the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey, which was last conducted in 2002.

Many of the tables and figures are based on the Freight Analysis Framework (FAF), version 3, which builds on the CFS to estimate all freight flows to, from, and within the United States, except shipments that are transported through the United States in trade between foreign countries. Shipments to and from Puerto Rico are included with Latin America data.

The FAF covers all modes of transportation. The truck, rail, water, and pipeline categories include shipments transported by only one mode. Air includes shipments weighing more than 100 pounds moved by air or by air and truck. The multiple modes and mail category includes all other shipments transported by more than one mode, such as bulk products moved by rail and water and mixed cargo hauled by truck and rail. The multiple modes and mail category also includes small shipments sent via postal and courier services. The other and unknown category primarily comprises unidentified modes but includes miscellaneous categories, such as aircraft delivered to customers and shipments through foreign trade zones. Please visit  www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/freight_analysis/faf for FAF data and documentation.

Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017