Transportation Economic Trends

Cost of Transportation:

Cost of Fuel

This page discusses fuel prices. Firms and households spend more on transportation when fuel prices increase. This includes firms that purchase fuel to acquire raw materials and deliver their own goods to markets and firms that buy fuel to provide transportation services for a fee, such as airlines and trucking companies. Households and firms purchasing transportation services may face higher prices if the firms providing the services raise their prices in response to an increase in fuel prices, e.g., charge more for airfare or truck transportation. Households purchasing fuel to operate their own vehicles also will face higher out-of-pocket transportation costs when fuel prices rise.

2023 Year-in-Review

  • Fuel prices—a transportation cost—fell in 2023. From 2022 to 2023, on-highway diesel fuel decreased the most at 15.5%, followed by motor gasoline (all types) at 10.9%. Data for 2023 are not available yet for jet fuel kerosene, finished aviation gasoline, and railroad diesel.
  • Despite falling from 2022 to 2023, on-highway diesel fuel price remained at its second-highest level in 2023 at $4.21 per gallon (with records beginning in 1994). On-highway diesel reached its highest level in 2022 at $4.99 per gallon.
  • Motor gasoline (all types) fell to $3.52 per gallon in 2023 - the fourth highest level on record since 1994, with the highest level of $3.96 per gallon reached in 2022.
  • From 2022 to 2023, motor gasoline prices (all grades and types) declined in all areas. While the U.S. average motor gasoline fuel price fell by 10.9 percent, the decline ranged from 8.9% in the West Coast to 12.8% in New England.

Cost of Fuel

Sales Price of Fuel by Mode | Sales Price of Fuel by Region

Sales Price of Fuel by Mode

Fuel prices are a cost to firms that carry out their own transportation operations and firms that sell transportation services for a fee. Fuel prices also are a cost to households to operate motor vehicles for their own use.
The different types of fuel may be used by both firms and households.
  • Motor gasoline: Used by both firms and households to operate motor vehicles.
  • On-highway diesel: Used by both firms and households to operate motor vehicles requiring diesel fuel.
  • Jet fuel kerosene: Used for air transportation by households owning their own planes and by airlines, which provide both freight and passenger transportation to firms and passenger transportation to households.
  • Railroad diesel: Used for both freight and passenger transportation to firms and passenger transportation to households
Prices for motor gasoline, on-highway diesel fuel, jet fuel kerosene, and railroad diesel typically move together with slight variations. This is due to all being crude oil products and hence, their price reflecting the price of crude oil. The annual values are an average of monthly fuel prices.
For the relative change in the price of gasoline compared to other transportation items purchased by households, see the annual and monthly Consumer Price Indexes.

Sales Price of Fuel by Mode | Sales Price of Fuel by Region

Sales Price of Fuel by Region

Motor gasoline prices vary substantially across the United States. Prices vary because of state and local taxes, refinery locations, fuel supplies, retail competition, and fuel regulations. The West Coast tends to have the highest gasoline prices in the country because California (one of the states in the West Coast region) requires a unique blend of gasoline to meet environmental regulations. The annual values are an average of monthly fuel prices.
For the relative change in the price of gasoline compared to other transportation items purchased by households, see the annual and monthly Consumer Price Indexes.

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Recommended citation
U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Economic Trends, available at www.bts.gov/product/transportation-economic-trends.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is the preeminent source of statistics on commercial aviation, multimodal freight activity, and transportation economics, and provides context to decision makers and the public for understanding statistics on transportation.
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