New pocket guide compiles years of transportation stats

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Friday, January 23, 2015

The transportation industry is full of numbers and statistics. Keeping track of them can be difficult. That is why the Bureau of Transportation Statistics has released the 2015 Pocket Guide to Transportation.

Information compiled in the guide derives from the bureau’s massive online document culled of national transportation statistics. With many studies and surveys done periodically, some stats are only as recent as 2009. Put together in September 2014, the most recent numbers come from 2013. Below are the numbers relevant to the trucking industry.

Infrastructure
From 2002 to 2012 a total of 126,245 miles were added to public roads, approximately a 3 percent increase. In terms of individual lanes, 310,832 lane-miles were added in the 10-year span. Class I freight railroad miles decreased by nearly 5 percent to 4,861 miles.

The number of bridges from 2002 to 2012 increased by nearly 3 percent to 16,510. Over the time frame of 1990-2012, structurally deficient bridges have been on a steady decline. Approximately 140,000 bridges were deemed deficient in 1990, compared with a little more than 60,000 in 2012. In 2013, Pennsylvania had a deficient bridge rate of 22 percent, the highest in the nation. Oklahoma, South Dakota, Iowa and Rhode Island followed closely behind at 18 percent.

More vehicles were on the road in 2012 when compared with 2002. Nearly 13 million more four-wheelers were on the road, close to a 6 percent increase totaling more than 220 million vehicles. At nearly 11 million, more than 2.7 million trucks were added, a significant increase of nearly 34.5 percent. Freight locomotives increased by more than 20 percent, but freight cars decreased by approximately the same percentage.

Highway pavement conditions have been getting slightly better. In a study comparing pavement conditions in 2010 to those in 2006 and 2002, a rating of “Good” increased by 10 percent over six years and three percent over four years. Consequently the, highway pavement condition of “Not Acceptable” decreased by 2 percent over 10 years, and conditions rated “Acceptable” dropped by 8 percent.

Congestion
Commuters are traveling less in shorter distances but with longer travel times. Since 1995, daily vehicle trips went from 3.6 to 3.0 in 2009. Vehicle-miles decreased by 3.1 miles to 29.0 miles. Average commute length had a slight drop to 11.8 miles compared with 12.1 miles in 2001. Despite shorter distances and fewer trips, the average commute time increased by more than 3 minutes to 23.9 minutes per trip.

Fewer people seem to be driving, with a 6 percent decrease of total percentage of people commuting by private vehicle. Conversely, bus, bicycle and pedestrian travel all received an increase, with nearly twice as many walking in 2009 compared with 1995.

A 2013 survey revealed that 76 percent of commuters drive alone, 9 percent carpool, 5 percent use transit, 3 percent walk, and 1 percent ride a bike. The remaining number either work at home or fall under the “Other” category, which includes motorcycles, taxis and other modes.

Moving goods
Trucks reign supreme in the “Freight Shipments” category. Shipments calculated in billions of dollars have steadily increased from 2002 to 2012, with trucks carrying the lion’s share of goods. In 2012, trucks carried nearly $13 trillion worth of freight. In a distant second, rail carried $623 billion.

Also remaining the undisputed champion, trucks carried nearly 14 billion tons of freight in 2012, steadily increasing since 2002. Again coming in at second, rail freights weighed in at a little over 2 billion for 2012.

Canadian and Mexican incoming truck border crossing has ebbed and flowed from 1995 to 2013. Incoming trucks started to rapidly descend during the recession, but have since started to slowly increase. From 1995 to about 2008, Canadian trucks entered the U.S. in much larger quantities. However, various factors have both Canadian and Mexican trucks coming in at a rate of just over 5 million crossings a year.

Detroit is the top U.S.-Canada truck port of entry with 1.5 million truck crossings in 2013. Close behind are Buffalo-Niagara Falls; Port Huron; and Blaine, Wash. Top U.S.-Mexico truck ports include Laredo, Texas; Otay Mesa, Calif.; El Paso, Texas; Hidalgo, Texas; and Calexico, Calif.

Performance
More and more people seem to be on the road. Road congestion from 1985 to 2011 has been on a stable increase. Congestion stats took a sharp downward turn in 2008, likely because of the recession that left millions of commuters driving sparingly. Since then, congestion has hit a plateau at just under 40 annual hours of delay per car commuter. Congestion time was almost half of that in 1985.

Congestion and population typically have a correlation. Washington, D.C., topped the list for highest hours of delay per car commuter at 67 hours. Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Boston all cracked the top five slots.

Safety and energy
Although more people are on the road leading to higher congestion, transportation fatalities and injuries have dropped significantly from 2002 to 2012. Total highway fatalities went down 22 percent. Over a 10-year period, the number of heavy-truck occupants killed in 2012 went up by eight.

Injuries also went down considerably with nearly 20 percent fewer total highway injuries in 2012 when compared with 2002. Heavy-truck occupants injured went down nearly 5 percent.

Alternative fuels may be gaining in popularity, but they are still no match for diesel and gasoline. More than 90 percent of transportation energy consumption came from petroleum. Renewable energy consumed 5 percent, and natural gas was consumed by 3 percent of transportation.

Copyright © OOIDA

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