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BTS freight index up 0.3 percent in March from February

The Transportation Department said that the March 2013 freight index was up 2.8 percent from the same month in 2012. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services


WASHINGTON — The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.3 percent in March from February, rising for the fifth consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released Wednesday.

The March 2013 index level of 113.7 was 19.9 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

The index was up 2.8 percent from the same month last year.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, said the March index was 1.3 percent below the all-time high level of 115.2 in December 2011.

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 TSI is seasonally adjusted so that trends reflect changes beyond normal monthly fluctuations.

Beginning with the April release, BTS improved procedures and refined the TSI methodology. As a result there have been minor changes in monthly numbers released previously. Documentation will be made available in the near future.

The BTS said there was growth across most freight modes but seasonally adjusted rail traffic declined. Shipments of coal and grain by rail showed year-to-year declines, not seasonally adjusted.

With the five consecutive monthly increases, the March index was at its second highest level since April 2009 during the recession exceeded only by December 2011.

The BTS said freight shipments are up 2.9 percent in the five years from the recession level of March 2008 and are up 9.5 percent in the 10 years from March 2003.

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