TD 12-2: Vehicle-kilometers by Mode (Millions of vehicle-kilometers)


Air: Domestic aircraft-kilometers for Canadian Level I to Level IV air carriers were last reported in 1987.

Road: Road vehicle-kilometers for personal vehicles and commercial freight vehicles (but not for bus) are based on a Transport Canada estimate for 1995 of the numbers of vehicle kilometers traveled by passenger motor vehicles, light trucks and commercial freight vehicles. Estimates of vehicle-kilometers are calculated based on: (1) road motor vehicle fuel sales (net sales on which taxes were paid at road-use rates); and (2) estimates of fuel efficiency by class of vehicle. All bus data are from a sample of Canadian companies engaged in scheduled intercity bus, urban transit, school bus and charter and other types of bus service from Statistics Canada’s annual Survey of the Passenger Bus and Urban Transit Industry. The vehicle-kilometer data for 2000 – 2009 for all categories of Road Motor Vehicles in Table 12-2 is from the Canadian Vehicle Survey (CVS). Refer to notes for Table 12-1 for a description of this survey.

Rail: Domestic inter-city passenger rail kilometers include Class I and II services.


Air: Data were estimated based on operations number of taking off of commercial aircrafts in national and international flights. As well as the average distance traveled by the national transport companies.

Road: Data were estimated based on the federal length of the national appraised net road and the average daily transit registered during each year in the federal appraised net road (federal toll and state free-toll). It should be noted that in 2013 the volumetric length represents 39.2 % of the principal highway system. Until 2003, the data was recorded at the level of total road transport, without breakdowns of personal vehicles, buses and commercial freight vehicles.

Rail: Data include vehicle activity by the entire railroad system, which during the years 1990, 1995 and 1996 was operated by one company. Currently no data are available because operations of rail services were transferred to the private sector.

  United States

Air: Air total includes data for domestic air carriers and general aviation. Air data for domestic air carrier vehicle-kilometers in the United States are based on 100 percent reporting of passengers and trip length by some 90 large certificated air carriers (including the medium regional carriers) that operate aircraft with a passenger seating capacity of more than 60, or have a payload capacity of more than 8,165 kilograms, or operate internationally. (For additional information on the definition of large certificated air carrier, see the technical notes for Table 4-1). In this table, general aviation includes on-demand air taxis, corporate flying, sightseeing and personal flying and some other forms of flying but excludes military flying. Vehicle miles are estimates derived from the Federal Aviation Administration’s General Aviation and Air Taxi Activity Survey. Please note that data from 1998 onwards for vehicle miles are no longer published in General Aviation and Air Taxi Activity Survey.

Road: Road data include passenger cars, motorcycles and light trucks. Passenger cars include taxis. Road data are based on statistics compiled by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) at the U.S. Department of Transportation from reports by the states. In 1995, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) revised its vehicle type categories for data from 1993 and later. The new categories include passenger car, the FHWA category “other 2-axle, 4-tire vehicles” (called “light truck” in this table), single unit trucks (“single-unit 2-axle 6-tire or more truck”) and combination trucks. Pre-1993 data were assigned to the closest available category. Data for light trucks include vans, pick-up trucks and sport/utility vehicles. Single-unit trucks are on a single frame with at least two axles and six tires, and correspond to the category of single-unit trucks in Table 12-2. Combination truck tractors correspond to the category of tractors in Table 12-2. In January 1997, the FHWA published revised vehicle-kilometers data for the highway mode for several years. The major change reflected the reassignment of some vehicles from the passenger car category to the light truck category. Bus totals are based on data from the FHWA and include charter, intercity, local motor bus and school bus. Local motor bus data are based on data from a private association. (See below for a description.)

Transit: Transit data for 1990 and 1995 are from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and are based on information in the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) National Transit Database. 1996 and subsequent data are directly from the FTA’s National Transit Database. The data for this report are obtained from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA’s) National Transit Database (NTD) Reporting System. Transit agencies are required to file an NTD report at regular intervals if they are recipients of Urbanized Area Formula Funds. In 2008, 692 agencies reported to the NTD. Of that total, 101 transit agencies received exemptions from detailed reporting because they operated 9 or fewer vehicles, and 15 were deleted because their data were incomplete. Thus, 576 individual reporters were included in the NTD, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of passenger-miles traveled on transit. Transit data submitted to the NTD are generally considered accurate because the FTA reviews and validates information submitted by individual transit agencies. However, reliability may vary because some transit agencies cannot obtain accurate information or misinterpret data. Transit total includes other U.S. transit categories not individually specified here, including local motor bus, trolley bus, ferries and transit for the disabled. Transit rail includes commuter rail, heavy rail and light rail and is based on car-kilometers.

Rail: Rail freight train-kilometers are based on Class I railroads in the United States. In 2008, Class I railroads had annual operating revenues in excess of $401.4 million (based on 2008 dollars) and comprised only 1.2 percent of the railroads in the U.S., but accounted for about 67.5 percent of the industry’s distance operated, 89.5 percent of its employees and 93.7 percent of its freight revenues. Train-kilometers are based on the distance run between terminals and/or stations.