US Bureau of Transportations Statistics Not Doing their Job!

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We all joke about government workers being an oxymoron, but this isn’t even funny. I went to the BTS website today to look at some numbers. Guess what? There were no new numbers since 2008. What the heck do we pay these guys for? They even have a page called US Trends. Guess again, what’s on it- some numbers from 2007 to 2008, and since 1990 blah-blah-blah. It’s a good thing for us in the industry that some businesses in the private sector do this job for us.

In fact, here’s the entire webpage they call US Trends:

In 2008, U.S. freight gateways handled more than $3.4 trillion (in current dollars) of international merchandise trade. From 2007 to 2008, merchandise exports rose 12 percent, and imports rose 7 percent. Since 1990, the leading U.S. freight gateways have handled increasing volumes of freight as the movement of traded goods to and from the United States has expanded.

From 1990 to 2008, the value of U.S. international merchandise trade grew from $889 billion to $3.4 trillion, increasing at an average annual rate of 8 percent. In infl ation-adjusted terms (using chained 2000 dollars), this trade grew about 7 percent per year, from $837 billion to more than $2.6 trillion. During this period, the growth in merchandise trade spurred the development of marine, air-cargo, and border-crossing facilities to connect domestic U.S. origins and destinations to markets abroad.

That’s it– an entire federal department, whose responsibility it is to put out transportation statistics- all they have is two paragraphs. And they misspelled inflation.

I want that job. It must be nice, sitting around having coffee, and getting paid so well. I took a look around their site, and guess what (again)? They’re hiring! Well, sort of- they’re looking for interns. Here’s a brief job description:

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), located at the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters, has internship positions available for graduate students in transportation–related programs of study in the Washington, DC region. BTS generates published reports and web-based information to inform the nation’s transportation decision-makers, planners, researchers, the media, and the public.

After reading that, one thing is clear- not only do they not do their job, they have interns do it for them. I can only imagine what those interns really do.

It’s a good thing for us that there are some real researchers out there that do this work- BizJournals is a good place to start.

Here’s the real info I was looking for on the Freight Transportation Services Index, although it’s a bit outdated (January 2010-December 2011), according to the BTS.

Freight Transportation Services Index, January 2010-December 2011

The blue line is 2010, and the red line is 2011. As you can see, not a lot has changed, although freight is up just a tad from 2010 to 2011. We can only guess what has happened in 2012 so far. In fact, I wonder if we can even believe this chart. Look at where 2010 ends, and compare that to where 2011 begins. It doesn’t exactly match up, does it?

Oh well, I guess I should be looking elsewhere.

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This article was written by Ken Skaggs, writer, educator, entrepreneur, musician, web designer, and web marketer (in other words, truck driver.)

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