This report addresses the question of the effect of fuel price increases on the energy intensiveness of freight transportation in the United States. The study first required the identification of the energy intensiveness of each of the freight transport modes and the historical share of the tranpsort market enjoyed by each mode. It was found that the modes differ substantially in their use of energy, the lowest value being 500 Btu per ton-mile for water transport and the highest value being 63,000 Btu per ton-mile for air cargo. At the present time, the weighted average energy intensity is about 1,400 Btu per ton-mile, but has been steadily increasing due to the rapid increase in the share of total cargo carried by air. Air cargo presently accounts for less than 0.2 percent of the total intercity ton-miles, but if present trends continue, this will reach a value of over 2 percent prior to the year 2000. This seemingly modest expansion would, nonetheless, produce a doubling of the average energy intensity--from 1,400 to 2,900 Btu per ton-mile--as a result of this modal redistribution alone. In the event fuel prices increase, average modal rates would be presumed to increase in a way that would compensate for this increased expense. If this happens, the competitive position of the modes would be altered, and modal redistribution might result. In general, fuel price increases affect each mode in proportion to its energy intensiveness, and changes between average modal rates are a function of the differences in their energy intensiveness. For all surface transport modes these changes are of relatively small effect compared to those for air transport. Because the energy intensiveness of air transport is between 26 and 126 times the intesiveness of the other modes, it would feel the effect of fuel price increases the most, and the growth of freight traffic by air transport would tend to be inhibited. Any appreciable decrease in the growth rate of air freight traffic would have a significant effect on future average energy intensiveness of freight transport. /AUTHOR/

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Listed in 'Energy Research and Technology', NSF 75-6, May 1975, p 110.
  • Corporate Authors:

    RAND Corporation

    1776 Main Street, P.O. Box 2138
    Santa Monica, CA  United States  90407-2138
  • Authors:
    • Mooz, W E
  • Publication Date: 1971-12

Media Info

  • Pagination: 46 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00097091
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Science Foundation
  • Report/Paper Numbers: R-807-NSF
  • Contract Numbers: GS-31253
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 15 1975 12:00AM