A Different Way To Operate

The U. S. State Department submitted a paper at the OECD WORKSHOP ON MARITIME TRANSPORT, which was held in Paris on the 4th and 5th of November, and the paper made for some very interesting reading. It includes 29 numbered paragraphs and the brief contents of this paper serve as an exclamation point to what this column has been stressing. Here are samples from the 29 paragraphs:
1. While the nature of the immediate problem may be particular to the United States, all countries are facing the challenge of accommodating the substantial growth of freight moving along their roads, railways, and waterways. [Evidence that this website offers the only workable solution to this crisis.]
2. Beginning in June 2004, an unanticipated surge of import cargoes created backups in ports along the U.S. West Coast and has put the country’s entire intermodal transport network under strain … By September, more than a third of the ships in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were waiting for a berth.
3. Delays from congestion have a considerable economic cost … the 85 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. experienced 3.5 billion hours of delay, resulting in 21.6 billion liters in wasted fuel and $ 63.2 billion in associated costs.
4. Expansion of infrastructure has not kept pace with demand. Growing costs of infrastructure projects … have slowed the development of infrastructure. At the same time, vehicle-miles traveled … increased by 80% between 1980 and 2000 while lane-miles only increased by 4%. Truck mileage increased by more than 89%. New waterfront property suitable for port activities is frequently unavailable … Communities surrounding U.S. ports often oppose expansion plans because of the congestion and pollution …
5. The high volume of traffic on roadways and rail lines is one of the major causes of congestion … Congestion in the rail system is acute.
6. Transfer facilities between different modes and crossings where railroads meet streets create frequent chokepoints.
7. Congestion is not a new problem … Congestion will likely grow worse as traffic continues to increase.
8. While these factors illustrate the underlying trend in transport congestion, more recent shifts in international trade patterns triggered the growth in imports that has suddenly made a long-term concern into an immediate problem.
9. Generally, ocean carriers have been able to meet the increased cargo flows with additional services and larger vessels … The additional cargo, however, is overwhelming other parts of the transportation network … U.S. railroads lack sufficient rolling stock and crews to meet expected demands … The railroads indicate that current rates of return cannot finance needed investments … Trucking companies also need additional drivers.
10. As manufacturers and retailers increasingly use global sourcing and distribution networks, businesses rely less on inventories … As a result, shippers are requiring more frequent services for smaller shipments. In addition to cost, reliability and transport times are becoming important criteria. Transport congestion undermines both.
11. (GAO) the U.S. Government auditing agency concluded that existing security requirements have not materially slowed freight movements but notes the widespread concern among freight industry stakeholders about the ability to maintain efficient operations under additional security requirements.
12. More efficient use of existing infrastructure, however, does not eliminate the need for additional capacity.
13. Changes to port operations can facilitate freight movement.
14. The OECD has suggested that increased security measures can yield benefits in the form of greater efficiencies through improvements to supply chain information technology.
15. Congestion tolls allow capacity to be more self-adjusting by rationing use … Congestion tolls also help generate funds for expansion.
16. As observed earlier, U.S. railroads are also suffering from capacity restraints and could not easily carry a substantially larger share of freight without massive investments.
17. Part of the EU strategy of diversifying freight transport is its short sea program … In the U.S., the Maritime Administration launched a Short Sea Initiative in November 2002 in an effort to alleviate U.S. freight capacity, highway congestion and environmental impact concerns, while using the underutilized assets of America’s waterways and revitalizing the U.S. maritime industry.
18. In the particular case of the U.S., some observers see little potential for additional productivity gains through further economic deregulation.
19. Many private and government observers agree that the planning process for freight transport projects needs improvement … Public port authorities and public and private terminal operators share responsibility for seaports.
20. Public authorities typically plan for periods extending over decades. In contrast, private sector companies must react in a timely fashion to changes to competitive conditions …
21. U.S. policy gives municipalities and states the primary role for planning improvements to the National Highway System, but many observers believe that the federal government has an important role to play in contributing to a wider perspective on the importance of the national and international cargo networks and in ensuring consistent planning approaches.
22. The Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century … the Borders and Corridors program …
23. One of the key challenges is funding infrastructure needs. Neither the private sector nor the U.S. Government alone has the resources to meet the enormous financing requirements …
24. Public support … must minimize distortion of competitive conditions …
25. The Alameda Corridor … an innovative approach involving private sector interests.
26. … the U.S. Government has recognized the importance of the intermodal freight network.
27. To replace TEA-21, the Administration has proposed the Safe Accountable Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act, known as SAFETEA.
28. Secretary of Transportation Mineta is proposing a comprehensive next step that he is calling SEA-21 for the Maritime Transportation System.
29. Five years ago, transportation analysts in the U.S. predicted that the big problem was coming by 2020. It appears that the explosive growth in the trade between the U.S. and Asia, coupled with the accelerating reliance on imported goods throughout the U.S. economy have moved that problem dramatically forward.

We need a “different way to operate”!