“Tain’t funny, McGee!”

The 2006 TransComp and Intermodal Expo, sponsored jointly by the National Industrial Transportation League, the Transportation Intermediaries Association and the Intermodal Association of North America, was held this past week in Fort Lauderdale, and, as usual, there was much ado about nothing … as far as anything constructive is concerned.

There was a whole lot to be concerned about, however, and speaker after speaker issued admonitions and misgivings with respect to shortcomings within the nation’s transportation “infrastructure”. Pessimism was the predominant theme.

“ICC” now stands for “infrastructure, congestion and competitiveness”, as one wag cleverly put it, but as a lovable comic used to say a long time ago, “‘Tain’t funny, McGee!”

And it ain’t funny nowadays, either.

Nothing positive emanated from this conference. The leading lights in the transportation industry were in attendance, yet not one concrete solution to our impending transportation gridlock was offered. As in prior gatherings, those in attendance were urged to start working on the problems that threaten our supply lines, but those were the same warnings heard at past conferences. And they’ll be heard again at the next one.

It isn’t that the brain trust doesn’t care. They care, alright. They just haven’t been able to come up with the answer. The president of the National Industrial Transportation League, John Ficker, told the attendees that adding new highways wasn’t the simple answer to their woes. Emphasis must be placed upon increased productivity, improved processes and new technology, he said.

“New technology”. That’s the tipoff. That means that the solutions to the problems are out of the boss’ hands now. Our salvation lies with “software designers” and “computer programmers”… those who have the inside track on “high-tech”. Sensible solutions are out of the question. We must now rely on magicians. Like the types who brought us the Y2K and the dot-bomb fiascos.

Captain Wei Jaifu, the president and chief executive of the Cosco Group, was the keynote speaker at the conference and he warned that the U.S. is not prepared for the growing volumes of freight that are headed this way. But those magicians will take care of the problem. We just need to be patient.

Incoming NIT League Chairman Curt Warfel stressed the need to educate lawmakers and their staffs about how our transportation system works. What he should have suggested is the need to educate transportation experts on how our transportation system works. There’s no magic involved. And this is no time to be patient.

We need a few honchos who know how to log on to the “high tech” internet. It’s fourth grade stuff, we know, but maybe … just maybe … one of them will get lucky enough to connect with this site.