Government data suggests Canadian protests had little effect on cross-border freight

April 25, 2022

Tyson Fisher


Cross-border truck freight remained mostly stagnant in February, with official government data suggesting the Canadian protest blockading the northern border had little to no effect on North American commerce.

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, freight hauled by trucks across the borders increased slightly by 0.3% in February compared with the previous month. There was a modest 0.5% dip in Mexico truck freight. However, Canadian cross-border truck freight increased by 1.5%.

The increase in cross-border truck freight moving through the northern border comes despite protests from Canadian truckers in February.

On Jan. 29, thousands of demonstrators took part in a convoy that reached Ottawa.

Several media outlets reported that protesters impeded access to the busiest international crossing in North America. The Ambassador Bridge was closed to Canada-bound traffic on Feb. 8, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Canadian government. Trucks were told to cross at another bridge about 60 miles away.

Cross-border truck freight chart
Cross-border truck freight by value moving through the Detroit crossing compared with all Canadian crossings in the last 12 months.

However, the data suggests some disruption to truck traffic at the Detroit border. Cross-border truck freight at the Detroit crossing dropped by 15%, the only decrease among the top five U.S. ports. On the other hand, there was also an 18% decrease in rail freight at the Detroit border crossing.

Historically, truck freight crossing Detroit in February has remained mostly stagnant. Not counting pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, trucks crossing the Ambassador Bridge in February went either up or down by about 1% or less compared with the previous month. In 2015, truck traffic dropped by nearly 8%.

Overall, there was a net increase in Canadian imports and exports moved by trucks this year. In fact, February prevented a loss streak for cross-border truck freight in Canada. In December, Canadian truck freight dropped by 6%, followed by a 5% drop in January. LL