Modes of Transportation Comparison

In the chart below the six main modes of transporting products are compared for each of the key transportation features.

Also shown are the estimated percentages of product movement (i.e., freight traffic) that occurs within the United States for the five modes that handle tangible products.

These percentages are taken from the 2006 Statistical Abstracts of the United States and reflect estimates as of 2001.

Mode Product
Speed Accessibility Cost Capacity Intermodal
% of US
Truck Very Broad Moderate High Moderate Low Very High 28%
Railroad Broad Slow Moderate Low Moderate Very High 41%
Air Narrow Fast Low Very High Very Low Moderate <1%
Water Broad Very Slow Moderate Very Low Very High Very High 13%
Pipeline Very Narrow Very Slow Low Low Very High Very Low 17%
Digital Very Narrow Very Fast Very High Very Low Moderate Very Low ?
Transportation Features and Modes