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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Transportation trends to become a monthly U.S. economic indicator

When economists try to gauge the U.S. economy's direction, they'll have a new indicator to examine.

Introduced by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Jan. 29, the Transportation Services Index (TSI) is designed to calculate the movement of freight and passengers by land, water and air as a measure of the economy's performance. USDOT plans to release the first TSI figures in March and then issue the index monthly.

"Wall Street understands how important numbers are for gauging financial health," said Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta in a prepared statement. "The new Transportation Services Index will fill a crucial void by finally giving us a single number to measure how much transportation means to the American economy."

TSI's freight measures will include for-hire trucking and parcel services, freight railroads, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight; passenger-transportation measures will include local transit, intercity passenger rail and air travel.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics analysts will weight and seasonally adjust TSI data to provide monthly and year-to-year comparisons.

The transportation industry accounts for 11 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and employs more than 11 million people, according to USDOT.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/30/2004