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About BTS

Contacts | Directions | Events | History

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) was established as a statistical agency in 1992. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 created BTS to administer data collection, analysis, and reporting and to ensure the most cost-effective use of transportation-monitoring resources. BTS brings a greater degree of coordination, comparability, and quality standards to transportation data, and facilitates in the closing of important data gaps.

On February 20, 2005, BTS became a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). RITA is composed of BTS, the former Research Office of the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (formerly with RSPA), Transportation Safety Institute (formerly with RSPA), and Office of Intermodalism (formerly with the Office of the Secretary). BTS is headed by a Director, appointed by the Secretary of Transportation, and the Director reports to the RITA Administrator.

BTS' basic authorizing legislation is the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which authorizes $27 million each year for a five year period (2005-2009). This funding comes from the Highway Trust Fund, and is administered within the Research and Development account under the Federal Highway Administration.

BTS' data collection program for aviation is authorized under separate legislation enacted when the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) was terminated. This program is a mandatory data collection. The Wendell Ford Aviation Investment Reform Act (AIR-21) authorized funding for the airline information program from the Airport and Airways Trust Fund (AATF), but to date no funding has been appropriated.

As a statistical agency, BTS:

  • is policy-neutral-an objective broker for the facts
  • covers all of transportation; BTS is cross-modal in nearly everything we do
  • does independent data collection and analysis, but BTS also serves all the other modes to help them be more effective and efficient
  • sets standards for transportation data
  • has special statutory protections (essentially the same as those for Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics) for the confidentiality of data we collect
  • has unique competencies in statistics, economics, information technology, geographic information systems, and transportation

Over the years of its existence, BTS established itself with a focus in three key areas, each mandated by legislation: 1) compiling, analyzing, and publishing a comprehensive set of transportation statistics; 2) making statistics readily accessible; and 3) implementing a long term data collection program.. We serve:

  • Congress
  • DOT
  • Other Federal agencies
  • State governments
  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations
  • Local governments
  • Universities
  • Private sector
  • General public

The main purpose of BTS' work is to help advance the DOT Strategic Plan (2003-2008) and A Strategic Plan for Transportation Statistics (2003-2008). But we also aim to anticipate future needs and policy issues. Our challenge is to develop data and analyses that are relevant, high quality, timely, comparable, complete, and accessible-our strategic goals for transportation statistics. The BTS Performance Report (2001-2005) provides a public accounting of performance of the previous A Strategic Plan for Transportation Statistics (2000-2005).


The BTS mission is to create, manage, and share transportation statistical knowledge with public and private transportation communities and the Nation.


To be the premier provider of transportation statistical knowledge.


Create and develop transportation statistical knowledge

Manage and disseminate transportation statistical knowledge

Achieve and maintain organizational excellence