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Transportation Services Index falls 1.9% in Oct. from Sept.

The BTS said the October decline was at least in part because of Hurricane Sandy, which depressed both truck and freight rail traffic. Both rail freight and trucking showed significant declines.

The Trucker News Services

12/12/2012

WASHINGTON — The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry fell 1.9 percent in October from September, declining after a one-month increase, according to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released Wednesday.

The October 2012 index level of 107.1 was, however, 13.6 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in October was 6 percent below the all-time high level of 114.0 in December 2011.

BTS’ TSI records began in 1990.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are 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 air freight.

The BTS said the October decline was at least in part because of Hurricane Sandy, which depressed both truck and freight rail traffic.  Both rail freight and trucking showed significant declines.

Since peaking in December 2011, the index remained in a narrow band through the first nine months of 2012, but in October it dropped to its lowest level since May 2011, when the index was 105.2. The index reached a high of 110.6 in February before falling to the current low for 2012 in October. After dipping to 94.3 in April 2009 during the recession, freight shipments increased in 27 of the last 42 months, rising 13.6 percent during that period.

The BTS said over the long term freight shipments are down 2 percent in the five years from the pre-recession level of October 2007, but are up 3.3 percent in the 10 years from October 2002 despite declines in recent years.

On a month-to-month basis, the BTS said October 2012 freight shipments fell 1.6 percent from October 2011, but rose 10.1 percent from October 2009, shortly after the end of the recession, but remained below the level in October 2005.

The TSI has three seasonally adjusted indexes that measures changes from the monthly average of the base year of 2000. The three indexes are freight shipments, passenger travel and a combined measure that merges the freight and passenger indexes. TSI includes historical data from 1990 to the present. Release of the November 2012 index is scheduled for Jan. 9, 2013.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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