Cross border freight increasing; trucks still hauling most of it

October 24, 2017

Tyson Fisher


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in August trucks moved nearly 65 percent of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. All five modes experienced an increase in freight year to year for the fourth consecutive month.

The value of freight hauled across the borders increased by more than 9 percent compared with July, when freight was down more than 10 percent from the previous month. March had the largest month-to-month increase (16 percent) since March 2011, when NAFTA freight was up more than 22 percent compared to February 2011.

Compared to July 2016, freight was up 4.6 percent. This marks the tenth consecutive month of year-to-year increases. Nine of 12 months experienced a loss compared to the previous year in 2016.

August’s rise was only the third largest year-to-year increase this year, ahead of February (2.9 percent increase) and April (0.8 percent increase). In March, the index reached more than $100 billion for the first time since October 2014.

August, November and December were the only months to have a year-to-year increase in 2016 at 0.7 percent, 3.3 percent and 0.4 percent respectively. August was the first year-to-year increase since December 2014, when freight increased by more than 5 percent.

Trucks carried more than $63 billion of the $97.4 billion of imports and exports in August. Rail came in second with nearly $15 billion.

Freight totaled $97.439 billion, up more than $8 billion from the previous month and an increase of more than $4 billion from August 2016.

Pipeline freight accounted for the largest increase at 13.2 percent after an increase of 24 percent in July. Trucks accounted for a modest increase at 3.6 percent. Truck freight experienced a similar modest increase of 4 percent and 4.4 percent in July and June, respectively.

Nearly 59 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at nearly 16 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went up by 4.5 percent compared with August 2016. Of the $47.9 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried nearly 71 percent of the loads.


Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.