NAFTA MODES OF TRANSPORTATION

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Updated: March 19, 2018

All five major transportation modes – truck, rail, pipeline, vessel and air – carried more U.S. freight with Canada and Mexico by value in 2017 than in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The share of the value of freight moved by vessel rose by 1.2 percent and the pipeline share increased by 1.1 percent from 2016 to 2017. As a result of the vessel and pipeline increases, the share of freight moved on other modes declined: air by 0.1 percent, rail by 0.2, and truck by 2.2 percent.

Trucks continued to be the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both Canada and Mexico, carrying 63.3 percent of the freight transported. Despite a 2.2 percentage point decrease from 2016 in the share carried, trucks accounted for $720.8 billion of the $1.1 trillion in freight flows with Canada and Mexico in 2017.

Rail remained the second largest mode, moving $174.1 billion or 15.3 percent, followed by vessel at 6.6 percent; pipeline at 5.7 percent; and air at 3.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail, and pipeline combined carried 84.3 percent of the total value.

Trucks carried 60.2 percent of the $614.0 billion of goods imported from Canada and Mexico in 2017. Trucks carried 66.8 percent of the $525.5 billion of goods exported to Canada and Mexico.

The total value of cross-border freight carried on all modes rose 6.6 percent from 2016 to $1.2 trillion in current dollars.

From 2016 to 2017, the value of U.S.-Canada freight flows increased 7.1 percent to $582.4 billion. Trucks carried 57.7 percent of the value of the freight. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail, and pipeline combined carried 84.5 percent of the value.

Although trucks carried the largest share (57.7 percent) of U.S.-Canada freight by value in 2017, its share of the total decreased by 2.4 percentage points from 2016. Pipeline’s share rose by 2.2 percentage.

Trucks carried 50.1 percent of the $300.0 billion of goods imported from Canada in 2017. Trucks carried 65.7 percent of the $282.5 billion of goods exported to Canada.

From 2016 to 2017, the value of U.S.-Mexico freight flows increased 6.1 percent to $557.0 billion. Trucks carried 69.1 percent of the value of the freight. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail, and pipeline combined carried 84.1 percent of the value.

Trucks carried the largest share (69.1 percent) of U.S.-Mexico freight in 2017, despite a 1.9 percentage point decrease from 2016.

Trucks carried 69.9 percent of the $314.0 billion of goods imported from Mexico in 2017.

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics