Estimate highlights interstate road freight downturn

BITRE update shows strong rises on three other measures

Estimate highlights interstate road freight downturn
How road freight has fared since 1970


A Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics update of road freight estimates has underlined the fall in interstate transport since the global financial crisis (GFC).

While three other freight task measures – ‘total Australia’, ‘capital city’ and ’rest of state’ minus capital city – showed a short downturn at the end of the previous decade, they all resumed or even outperformed their original trajectories.

Interstate road freight, however, has been hammered from 2010, with the barest of up-ticks showing mid-this decade.

"The global financial crisis dampened total road freight growth only slightly and for a short time," the report states.

"However, interstate freight went into a longer decline, with the slack being taken up by rest of state freight.

"This perhaps represents the results of the decline in domestic manufacturing, with the accompanying increase in imports through capital city ports – freight which is distributed within the state."

The findings in Australian road freight estimates: 2016 update give historic statistics dating back to 1969-70 but BITRE has sought to improve the its methodology.

While it has some reservations on how the figures should be viewed in relation to growth, given that Australia Bureau of Statistics Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU) occurred more often over the decades, it does make certain points regarding tonne kilometres (tkm) growth:

  • total road freight estimate increased from 23 billion tkm in 1969-70 to 212 billion tkm in 2014-15
  • Australia’s total interstate freight estimate increased from 6 billion tkm to 63 billion tkm
  • the total road freight estimate in the eight capital cities increased from 6 billion tkm to 46 billion tkm
  • the rest of state (i.e. within the state) road freight estimate increased from 10 billion tkm to 103 billion tkm.

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