How Stuff Gets From Here to There

First, if you haven’t seen the excellent The Story of Stuff, go check it out.

I noticed an AP article about transportation safety and, with peak oil on my mind, found this quote pretty fascinating.

“Do you enjoy your clothing and house? Without the truck driver you would have none of it,” said Gary Hull, 52, a trucker for a Louisiana company, as he drove from Edinburg, Texas, to Mansfield, La. “Our economy is based on the truck. People don’t understand the ramifications of making it more restrictive for truck drivers to drive.”

So, I wanted to track down some hard numbers on transportation. The Office of Freight Management and Operations of the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation (ah, bureaucracy!) has all the answers in the publication Freight Facts and Figures 2007. “The U.S. transportation system moved, on average, 53 million tons of freight worth $36 billion each day in 2002.” In 2006, 60% of freight went by truck (not counting the USPS or couriers), just under 10% went by rail, and 3.3% moved via waterway. “Between 1980 and 2005, the fuel consumed in highway freight transportation increased from 20 billion to 33 billion gallons annually.

How’s the remaining 25% or so go? Mostly pipeline.

Highway Freight Transportation Density

Highway Freight Transportation Density

Railway Freight Transportation Density

Railway Freight Transportation Density

Waterway Freight Transportation Density

Waterway Freight Transportation Density

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