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Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271 SPECIAL REPORT 271 FREIGHT CAPACITY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY Committee for the Study of Freight Capacity for the Next Century TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Transportation Research Board Washington, D.C. 2003 www.TRB.org
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Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271 Transportation Research Board Special Report 271 Subscriber Categories IA planning and administration VII rail VIII freight transportation (multimodal) Transportation Research Board publications are available by ordering individual publications directly from the TRB Business Office, through the Internet at www.TRB.org or national-academies.org/trb, or by annual subscription through organizational or individual affiliation with TRB. Affiliates and library subscribers are eligible for substantial discounts. For further information, contact the Transportation Research Board Business Office, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (telephone 202-334-3213; fax ; or e-mail TRBsales@nas.edu). Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This study was sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, the UPS Foundation, Inc., and the Transportation Research Board. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board. Committee for the Study of Freight Capacity for the Next Century. Freight Capacity for the 21st century / Committee for the Study of Freight Capacity for the Next Century, Transportation Research Board. p. cm.—(Special report ; 271) ISBN 0-309-07746-X 1. Railroads—United States—Freight—Forecasting. I. Title. II. Special report (National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board) ; 271 TF23 .N35 2003 385′.24′097301—dc21 2002072148
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Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271 THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Transportation Research Board is a division of the National Research Council, which serves the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation by stimulating and conducting research, facilitating the dissemination of information, and encouraging the implementation of research results. The Board’s varied activities annually engage more than 4,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org www.national-academies.org
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Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271 Committee for the Study of Freight Capacity for the Next Century Benjamin J. Allen, Chair, Provost in the Interim, Iowa State University, Ames Paul H. Bingham, Principal, Global Insight, Inc., Washington, D.C. Lillian C. Borrone, Avon by the Sea, New Jersey Kenneth J. Button, Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia Joseph J. Catto, President, Professional Representation, Inc., Morris Plains, New Jersey G. Edward Dickey, Consultant, Baltimore, Maryland Stephen W. Fuller, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University, College Station Cameron Gordon, Executive Director, American Council on Intergovernmental Relations, New York Randall K. Halvorson, Assistant Commissioner for Transportation Research and Investment Management, Minnesota Department of Transportation, St. Paul James R. Hertwig, President, Landstar Logistics, Jacksonville, Florida James W. McClellan, Senior Vice President, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Norfolk, Virginia Edward K. Morlok, UPS Foundation Professor of Transportation, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Carmine Palombo, Director, Transportation Programs, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Detroit Evelyn A. Thomchick, Associate Professor of Business Logistics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park Transportation Research Board Staff Joseph R. Morris, Study Director
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Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271 Contents Executive Summary 1 1 Introduction 15 Charge to the Committee 16 Sources of Concern 18 Outline of the Report 21 2 Freight Capacity as a Government Policy Issue 22 Public Responsibilities in Freight Transportation 23 Immediate Policy Issues Affecting Freight Capacity 28 Recent Policy Statements 44 3 Data on System Performance: Trends and Case Studies 50 Trends in Traffic, Infrastructure, and Performance 50 Case Studies 76 Industry Interviews 102 4 Conclusions and Recommendations 108 Conclusions 109 Recommendations 119 AppendixRecent Statements on Freight Policy 143 Study Committee Biographical Information 152
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Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271 Preface In every sector of the U.S. freight transportation industry during the past decade, alarms were sounded, by service providers and their customers, that facilities were becoming inadequate to deal with the demands of traffic growth. Trucking companies saw highway congestion eroding performance and profits, rail customers experienced painful service disturbances as the aftermath of mergers in the industry, and port operators sought federal assistance to cope with unprecedented growth in international trade. Responding to capacity demands is complicated by conflicts between the requirements of passengers and freight sharing the same facilities and by the need to balance demands to maintain environmental quality, preserve communities, and accommodate economic growth. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) convened the Committee for the Study of Freight Capacity for the Next Century to consider the long-term implications of trends in freight transportation markets and how government policy can allow more efficient provision of freight transportation system capacity. The committee’s study was sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state departments of transportation through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, the UPS Foundation, Inc., and TRB. The work of the committee built on the reports of three past TRB policy study committees that addressed related issues: Policy Options for Intermodal Freight Transportation, Special Report 252 (1998); Paying Our Way: Estimating Marginal Social Costs of Freight Transportation, Special Report 246 (1996); and Landside Access to U.S. Ports, Special Report 238 (1993).
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Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271 The committee examined historical data and case studies to gain an understanding of the capacity problems the freight industry is experiencing today. It did not forecast future capacity or traffic volumes. The committee’s conclusions emphasize the importance of adopting government policies that promote more efficient management and use of facilities and better investment decisions and that allow institutions to respond more effectively to changing needs and circumstances. The title of this report and the charge to the committee highlight government’s role as the supplier of facilities for freight transportation. In the United States, government builds, owns, and operates highways, airports, the air traffic control system, waterways, and port facilities. However, government policies affect not only the supply of freight transportation facilities but also the demand for use of these facilities. The impact of government policies on the demand for freight transportation will be one of the factors determining the adequacy of capacity in the future. Government demand management practices include charging fees for the use of facilities and traffic control measures to keep facilities operating smoothly. Environmental regulations, for example, land use controls, sometimes influence freight transportation demand. The committee has considered the role of demand management, and especially the significance of user fees, in efficiently balancing capacity and use in the future. One traditional approach to examining the adequacy of infrastructure capacity has been the needs study, which entails compiling an inventory of facilities, comparing the capacity of these facilities with projected future usage to identify capacity shortfalls, and computing investment needs to maintain the present level of service at the projected level of usage. An example is the series of Conditions and Performance Reports submitted to Congress periodically by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which examines highway spending requirements. Over the years these reports have become more sophisticated, taking into account the relationship between the level of future highway investment and the volume of travel and comparing benefits and costs of projected investments. The committee did not adopt the needs study methodology, for two reasons. First, within the resources of the study, compiling the necessary data would not have been possible. More fundamentally, freight transportation is a mixed public and private enterprise, operating in part in the free market, with management authority largely decentralized; whereas the needs study methodology is most relevant for a centrally planned system. Therefore, instead of attempting to identify particular capacity shortfalls and investment needs, the committee has considered how the federal, state, and local governments make decisions on operating and expanding the transportation facilities they control, with the goal of identifying opportunities to improve these ongoing decision-making processes.
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Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271 In its report, the committee did not comprehensively review the performance of all components of the U.S. freight transportation system or all policy issues related to freight. The case studies and discussions of performance trends emphasize the domestic surface modes. Performance and policy issues relating specifically to airport capacity, air traffic control, and on-site seaport facilities were not examined, although these facilities are important components of the freight transportation system. The committee’s general recommendations on principles for managing government transportation programs to ensure adequate future capacity are applicable to all the system’s components. The recommendations regarding particular government programs are presented as illustrations of these principles rather than as a complete freight transportation program. In addition to the management improvements that the recommendations call for, the committee recognizes that technological progress will be necessary to ensure continued improvement of freight transportation system performance. In the past, technological advances have been critical in allowing the system to serve growing demands. Technological progress will depend on adequate support and sound planning for research in the public and private sectors; however, public-sector transportation technology research priorities and research funding needs are not considered in this report. Since the final meeting of the committee in 2001, events with far-reaching economic and social significance have occurred. The economy experienced a recession, and the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington have forced a reordering of priorities in many endeavors. The committee recognized throughout its study the need to distinguish cyclical from long-term developments. However, the committee did not anticipate how security would become a consideration of overriding importance in transportation. Security requirements certainly will have consequences for the cost of constructing and operating transportation facilities, the design of facilities and operating practices, and demand for freight transportation services. TRB and other units of the National Academies have projects under way to help operators meet the new security requirements. Panels are developing methods of assessing vulnerabilities and mitigation methods and are identifying opportunities for applying technology to the solution of security problems in transportation. TRB’s Special Report 270, Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative (2002), is an initial report on this work. In the new environment, the committee believes that its recommendations remain relevant to the problem of efficiently planning and operating the nation’s freight transportation system. The study was managed by Joseph R. Morris, who drafted this report under the direction of the committee and under the supervision of Stephen R. Godwin, Director of TRB’s Studies and Information Services Division.
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Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271 This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The reviewers of this report were Leigh B. Boske, University of Texas at Austin; David J. Forkenbrock, University of Iowa, Iowa City; Lance R. Grenzeback, Cambridge Systematics, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts; Marion Hart, Jr., Florida Department of Transportation, Tallahassee; Theodore E. Keeler, University of California, Berkeley; James R. McCarville, Port of Pittsburgh Commission, Pennsylvania; Daniel R. Smyser, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Harrisburg; and Michael W. Wickham, Roadway Express, Inc., Akron, Ohio. Although the reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the findings and conclusions, nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Henry W. Riecken, University of Pennsylvania (emeritus) and by Lester A. Hoel, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Suzanne Schneider, Assistant Executive Director of TRB, managed the report review process. The report was edited and prepared for publication by Norman Solomon under the supervision of Nancy Ackerman, Director of Publications. Special thanks go to Frances E. Holland for assistance with meeting arrangements, communications with committee members, and report production. Benjamin J. Allen Chair, Committee for the Study of Freight Capacity for the Next Century