More Guesswork?

Guesswork and stopgap measures have been the order of the day during the developing years of the intermodal industry. Not very long ago containers were dropped directly on chassis in order to locate these boxes and avoid delivery delays. We were given assurances that this “wheeled” system of doing things would be the way terminal operations would provide orderly tracking and delivery of containerized cargo, but it wasn’t to be. Terminal operators were forced to abandon this method when it became apparent that this simple luxury required more acreage than what was available in order to handle the increasing and unanticipated volumes that have been generated by U.S. consumer demands and Asian capacity for production. So that operations could be condensed, therefore, “stacking” was then determined to be the solution to terminal crowding, but it soon became obvious that this measure made it extremely difficult to locate and retrieve containers. A variety of tracking methods were introduced in order to make it possible just to locate a targeted box after that box itself had been shuffled out of the way during previous searches for boxes, and … well, you know the story.

The entire development of the industry has experienced unending growing pains, which have been promoted and perpetuated by guesswork and by introducing one stopgap measure after another. Given the information available, though, would any of us have acted differently if we had been positioned as a port official or terminal operator? Not a chance. No one can see into the future, nor was a cure-all available for the problems that have cropped up because of unexpected growth. Even now, uninformed port authorities are backed into a corner on the West Coast and are desperately looking for ways to stem the threatening flood tide that they hoped would show signs of receding after the recent seasonal peak. No relief is in sight, however, and further problems are assured.

Fearful of an impending gridlock, West Coast authorities are now recommending the establishment of an inland container depot and a rail shuttle line connecting the harbor and that offsite depot. But officials also know that this will be just another stopgap measure because an elevated expressway on Route 47 is also in the works down the line. What the last two sentences don’t say, but do imply, is that someone will be asked to shell out several billions of dollars for these projects. (And can you guess who that will be, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer?) Admitting that no one yet knows of a better way to postpone this chaos, what else can possibly be done in this crisis?

If you’ve gotten to this point in these commentaries and have yet to familiarize yourself with our patented storage, retrieval and delivery system, please click on to this website’s opening pages. You’ll see that we can conduct all operations on one-tenth the acreage now being used at the LA-Long Beach complex and still have room to spare. You’ll see that our delivery system would be a programmed distribution of cargo utilizing existing rail services in conjunction with generously paid truck driver employees, and you’ll see that our system would relieve the community of its present environmental concerns. We’d like to add that the amounts of income generated to the port authorities, the state, the county and the city governments would greatly exceed amounts now being realized, and NO funds would be required from beleaguered taxpayers because currently proposed demolition and reconstruction would be unnecessary. [Money talks, but is anyone listening yet?]