A U.S. government forecast said today that freight tons moving on all U.S. transportation modes will grow 40 percent over the next 30 years, while the value of that freight will almost double.
By 2045, total annual freight moved on all modes—air, vessel, pipeline, rail, and trucks—is projected to reach 25 billion tons while its value grows 92 percent, to $37 trillion, according to projections released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Based on current estimates, U.S. transport modes carried nearly 18.1 billion tons of goods worth about $19.2 trillion in 2015, the agencies' latest Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) shows.
In addition to adding sheer bulk, American freight will see changes in the mix of items carried. Energy commodities will see a modest rise in pure tonnage by 2045, but their portion of the total will fall to a 31-percent share in 2045 from 38 percent in 2015, as shipping demand increases for other commodities.
One aspect of the U.S. freight network that will not change is the crucial role of trucks, the federal economists said. Trucks already carry 70 percent of the nation's total annual freight moved, and that portion will rise slightly as freight carried by trucks is on track to rise from 11.5 billion tons in 2015 to an estimated 16.5 billions tons in 2045.