DOT releases 30-year freight projections, trucks the single most used mode

Value of Goods Shipped

March 9, 2016


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Freight tons moving on America’s transportation network will grow 40 percent over the next three decades while the value of freight will almost double, according to new projections by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

By 2045, total freight on all modes — air, vessel, pipeline, rail, and trucks — is projected to reach 25 billion tons while the value is expected to grow to $37 trillion, about $101 billion per day.

Trucks are by far the single most used mode to move freight, moving 64 percent of the tonnage in 2015 at 11.5 billion tons and 69 percent of the total value — $13.3 trillion. Tonnage for trucking is forecast to grow 44 percent by 2045 to 16.5 billion tons, and value is forecast to grow 84 percent to $24 trillion.

The projections are from BTS’ and FHWA’s latest version of the Freight Analysis Framework (FAF), the most comprehensive publicly available dataset of freight movement.

The current estimates show that in 2015, nearly 18.1 billion tons of goods worth about $19.2 trillion were moved on the United States’ transportation network. On a daily basis, 49 million tons of goods valued at more than $53 billion are shipped throughout the country on all transportation modes.

The mix of commodities has been changing in recent years and is projected to continue evolving. Energy commodities were 38 percent of total tonnage in 2015, and they are projected to decline to a 31 percent share by 2045. This is mostly due to increases for other goods. Tonnage for energy goods is projected to increase 14 percent by 2045, while non-energy goods are projected to increase by 56 percent.