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According to the preliminary 2012 Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) data, trucks transport the vast majority of freight by both weight and value. The two pie charts below show the share of freight moved by each transportation mode by weight (left) and by value (right). By weight, rail transports 16% of the freight but only 3% by value because rail is often used to haul bulk commodities like coal and grains that are heavy but low value. Conversely, air transport carries just 0.04% (rounds to 0% in the pie chart) of the freight by weight but 3% of the freight by value because lightweight, high value commodities are often shipped by air.

Pie chart graphics displaying weight and value of freight moved in the U.S. in 2012. Tons of freight moved in 2012 was 11.7 billion and the value of the freight moved was $13.6 trillion.


  • Air transport includes truck and air.
  • The CFS data for pipeline exclude most shipments of crude oil.
  • Multiple modes includes data for parcel, U.S. Postal Service, or courier; truck and rail; truck and water; rail and water; and other multiple modes.

Fact #846 Dataset

Supporting Information

Weight and Value of Freight Moved in the U.S., 2012
Mode Weight (Million Tons) Share of Tons Value (Billion 2012 Dollars) Share of Dollars
Truck 8,190.1 70% 10,038.1 74%
Rail 1,851.3 16% 455.1 3%
Water 510.7 4% 280.9 2%
Air 4.7 0% 397.4 3%
Pipeline 720.1 6% 607.2 4%
Multiple Modes 347.8 3% 1,844.2 14%
Unknown 70.9 1% 2.0 0%
Total 11,695.6 100% 13,625.1 100%

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Commodity Flow Survey Preliminary Tables, December 2013.

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