The High Cost of Congestion

Impact: High Cost of Congestion

Overview

One of the primary areas that SPI has focused on in making maritime transportation faster, better and cheaper is that of Congestion.

In the United States, the governmental agency responsible for overseeing the maritime transport system is the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD).

Below are excerpts from MARAD’s Vision of the 21st Century defining the problems and its solutions while demonstrating the need for a massively disruptive technology like Seaphantom to make a difference.

Congestion’s heavy price is eventually passed on to the American consumer

The greater use of America’s Marine Highways is one answer to congestion on our highways and railroads.

The Maritime Administration is working with U.S. shipyards to develop and promote new vessel designs and construction efficiencies to build and repair the vessels needed to expand the Marine Highway System.

US Maritime Administration

Recognizing Congestion’s High Price

What about the cost of congestion? Every person in the country bears congestion’s heavy price: close to $200 billion is incurred each year in lost revenue and wasted time and fuel, which is eventually passed on to the American consumer. Savings gained from economies of scale and other efficiencies, such as advanced vessel and cargo handling designs, are quickly wiped out if vessels are not fully loaded, there are delays in loading or unloading ships, highways are gridlocked, or rail systems are at capacity.

The Marine Highway

A Vital Link in the Nation’s Economy

America is blessed with an abundance of navigable rivers, lakes, seaways and coasts. For much of the history of the United States, these waterways were the primary means of interstate commerce and transportation for goods and people. As a result, the majority of America’s large metropolitan areas, as well as preponderance of the U.S. population, are located along the coasts and navigable waterways.

Over time, these waterways were first supplemented and then replaced by rail, road and air as the principal means of transportation in the United States. While the inland river system, Great Lakes and coastal fleets still move a billion metric tons of cargo between American ports each year, there is incredible marine capacity that remains unused.

The greater use of America’s Marine Highways is one answer to congestion on our highways and railroads. The use of vessels could reduce major bottlenecks, such as bridges and tunnels, as well as congested interstates, such as I-95 which parallels the U.S. Atlantic coastwise routes. Properly developed, the Marine Highway can greatly relieve the increased stress on the overall transportation system.

The use of Marine Highways can reduce overall fuel consumption and limit the amount of air pollution. Moreover, studies have shown the fuel efficiency and pollution reduction benefits by switching to newer, environmentally friendly vessels.

Using the Marine Highways is cheaper too. However, a barrier exists in those areas in which the Harbor Maintenance Tax is imposed and collected. Efforts have been undertaken to address this impediment to greater use of U.S. waterways. Shippers and maritime community stakeholders have sent the message that the time for talk is over. They want to expand America’s Marine Highway to ease landside congestion problems, improve transportation efficiencies and grow the economy.

The Maritime Administration supports the development of new North American Marine Highway services and aligning and integrating them into the national, state and local transportation planning process. The Agency is also working with U.S. shipyards to develop and promote new vessel designs and construction efficiencies to build and repair the vessels needed to expand the Marine Highway System.

Everyone must work together with transportation users and providers to identify and eliminate impediments to expanding the use of waterborne transportation; accelerate the shift from surface to waterborne transportation; and build support for such an innovative approach. Action cannot come soon enough.