Yesterday’s comment dealt with the OECD’s workshop that was held in Paris early in November. Hardly any space in U.S. maritime periodicals was devoted to this meeting, but the report submitted by MARAD’s Bruce Carlton merits a great deal of attention. We excerpted portions of the 29 points covered in this excellent document, and if any of our readers would like complete copies of Mr. Carlton’s submission, we’ll be happy to provide them. He was concise but he didn’t miss a trick, and it might be worthwhile to review a few of the more critical issues he addressed.
1. As one might suspect, the problems rampant in the U.S. distribution chain are not unique to this country. Transportation routes in all countries are being challenged in the same way.
2. Our entire country’s intermodal system has been strained because of the “unanticipated” surge of import cargoes at West Coast ports. [We’ve already stressed this lack of foresight.]
3. The Texas Transportation Institute calculated that the associated costs of West Coast delays and congestion in the 2002 disruption amounted to $ 63.2 billion.
4. Expansion of infrastructure has not kept pace with demand.
7. Congestion is not a new problem. [Someone’s been sleeping at the switch. See # 8, below.]
8. Recent changes in trade patterns has made a “long-term concern” into an immediate problem.
9. Unanticipated growth has overwhelmed the entire supply chain because of insufficient and untrained personnel and a shortage of equipment, among other things.
10. Global sourcing and distribution networks require more frequent service and smaller shipments, but transport congestion prevents just-in-time deliveries.
13. Changes to port operations can facilitate freight movement. [Where have you heard that before?]
15. Congestion tolls provide an incentive to avoid peak periods and generate funds for expansion. [Cf. PierPass. The jury’s out on this one.]
17. The “short sea” concept. The European Union is big on this because it works, and on this side of the pond we should be paying more attention to Chuck Raymond and MARAD. In the very near future we’ll be forced to rely on this measure in order to “alleviate U.S. freight capacity, highway congestion and environmental concerns, while using the utilized assets of America’s waterways and revitalizing the U.S. maritime industry”. [A head start in this area would be an enormous lift.]
23. One of the key challenges is funding the infrastructure. Neither the private sector nor the government can go it alone. But it has to be a co-operative, and concerted, effort.
25. The Alameda Corridor is one of the best illustrations of successful private sector involvement.
19. [… seems to fit here perfectly, because of the success of the Alameda Corridor.] Many private and government observers agree that “the planning process for freight transport needs improvement”.
27. SAFETEA focuses on intermodal connections and targets investments to the critical “last mile” of roads connecting to ports and intermodal facilities.
28. SEA-21 is designed to place more emphasis on marine transportation and to integrate it more fully into the national transportation system. [Short Sea Shipping!!]
29. “THE U.S. FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IS MOVING RAPIDLY TOWARD SATURATION, AND CONGESTION IS HAVING AN INCREASINGLY NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THE DAILY TRANSPORTATION NEEDS OF ITS CITIZENS.” [A great last paragraph.]