September 2023 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Remains the Same as the Previous Month and Down 1.8% from the Same Month Last Year

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, in September remained the same at the August level, unchanged for two consecutive months, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). From September 2022 to September 2023 the index fell -1.8% (Tables 1, 2, and 2A).

The level of for-hire freight shipments in September measured by the Freight TSI (138.6) remained 1.8% below the all-time high level of 141.1 in August 2019 (Table 2A). BTS’ TSI records begin in 2000. 

The August index was revised to 138.6 from 138.5 in last month's release.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight. The TSI is seasonally-adjusted to remove regular seasonal movement, which enables month-to-month comparisons.


The Freight TSI remained unchanged in September due to seasonally adjusted increases in pipeline, rail intermodal and rail carload, while air, water, and trucking decreased.

The September result came in the context of positive results for other indicators. The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production (IP) Index increased 0.3% in September, reflecting increases of 0.4% in manufacturing and 0.4% in mining while utilities decreased 0.3%.Housing starts and personal income increased7.0% and 0.3%, respectively.

The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing (ISM) index increased 1.4 points to 49.0, indicating a return to modest growth in manufacturing.

Although BTS withheld the September Passenger TSI because of the previously cited difficulty of estimating airline passenger travel and other components, the August index is now being released. The index increased 1.4% from July to August.Seasonally adjusted air passenger, transit, and rail passenger all grew.

The Passenger TSI exceeded its level in March 2020 —the first month of the pandemic— for 27 months in a row but remains below its pre-pandemic level (February 2020) for the 42nd consecutive month.


The September freight index result followed four increases in a row, leaving the index 1.9% above the April level but 0.9% below February. This left the index 1.8% below its level in August 2022. The index increased 3.3% since August 2021.The September Freight TSI exceeds the pandemic low in April 2020 by 11.7%; the index increased month-over-month in 23 of the 41 months since that low.The index remains 1.8% below its previous record level of 141.1 set in August 2019, despite increasing month-over-month in 23 of the 49 months since that all-time high.