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The transportation industry provides two basic types of services, freight transporation and passenger transportation.


Measures in billions of ton-miles freight in the U.S. is shipped between U.S. cities as follows (1997 data) with $ billion spent in ():

Railroad 1421 (35.3), Truck 996 (396.7), Oil Pipelines 617 (8.6), River/Canal Barges and Great Lakes Shipping 508 (21.0), and Air 14 (22.8). In round numbers the average cost per ton-mile of freight is, 67 cents for air freight, 25 cents for truck freight, 4 cents for water carried freight, 2.5 cents for railroad freight, and 1.3 cents to send oil down an oil pipeline.

By ton-mile, about 60% of domestic waterborne freight and about 45% of rail freight is coal and oil, as is 100% of oil pipeline freight and about 4% of truck freight. Thus, in all, about 45% of all intercity domestic freight in the U.S. consists of coal and oil.


Domestic intercity passenger traffic in billions of passenger miles was distributed as follows in 1997:

Private automobile 1740, Air 466, Bus 31, and Rail 13. The only intercity passenger rail provider in the United States is Amtrak and there are only about 15 major intercity bus lines in the United States. Many leading passanger airlines in the United States (also an oligopoly) are bankrupt, have recently terminated operations, or are operating in a state of great financial distress which could easily lead to bankruptcy.

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