Transportation Economic Trends
Revenue per Unit of Output
The impact of productivity can be seen through the price charged per unit of output. This page discusses two units of output: (1) freight revenue per ton-mile and (2) passenger revenue per passenger-mile. For modes where users do not typically pay per use, like driving a personal vehicle, data are difficult to obtain and not presented here.
- Domestic air carriers' freight revenue per ton-mile fell for
the second consecutive year in 2021. The decline indicates a potential
reduction in air freight transportation costs.
- Truck and oil pipeline revenue per ton-mile
increased from 2019 to 2020 by 0.2 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively.
The increase contrasts with a decline in the Producer Price Index (PPI),
meaning shippers likely faced higher truck and oil pipeline transportation
costs in 2020 but lower prices for all other goods and services.
- Rail, water, and air transportation revenue
per ton-mile contrastingly declined from 2019 to 2020 by 0.3 percent, 8.5
percent, and 10.7 percent, respectively. The decline in rail revenue per ton-mile was
less than the decline in the overall price for goods and services (as measured
by the PPI), while the decline in water and air revenue per ton-mile
exceed the decline in the PPI. This suggests that shippers faced lower
rail, water, and truck transportation prices in 2020, but shippers
purchasing rail transportation services benefited less from the overall
decline in prices than shippers purchasing water and air transportation
- In 2021, intercity rail/Amtrak passenger and commuter rail revenue per passenger mile fell by 15.3 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, suggesting a potential decline in the prices travelers faced for these services. Air passenger revenue per passenger mile grew in 2021 but more slowly, 2.3 percent, than the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which means travelers likely faced higher airfares in 2021 but less than expected from the overall price increase in goods and services (as measured by the CPI).