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12 CHAPTER 3 Findings and Applications Although there are examples of successful marine high- ventures. Ventures that have been successful exhibit the fol- way services that are currently in operation or have operated lowing characteristics: in the recent past, the researchers found no extant service that could serve as a true model for marine highway devel- They operate in a limited market in terms of geography opment. Given the scale of services that would be necessary and cargo mix. They deliberately do not try to be "all things to divert a significant percentage of current and future vol- to all people," but also do not depend exclusively on a ume onto the water, all existing models would have limited single shipper. utility. Therefore, the researchers' approach was to isolate The vessels (ship or barge) are adequately sized for the cargo the factors within each of these services that would be poten- that is being targeted. Most of the successful operators work tially transferable to a future system of marine highways. An with relatively small lot sizes, enabling them to use equip- important issue, thus, in this type of study is the lack of ment that requires a low up-front capital budget. Small successful NAMH models upon which to build substantive vessels such as barges are also easier to replace or substitute. recommendations. The frequency meets the needs of the customers, and there One of the more interesting findings from this research are often set, reliable schedules. effort is that the conventional wisdom regarding the neces- Successful ventures promote an integrated door-to-door sary distance for NAMH options (i.e., that marine highway service. Working with truckers (or controlling their own operations are only viable at distances equal to or greater than truck fleets) and becoming intermodal providers were key those that are viable for intermodal rail) is not correct. On the elements of success. contrary, successful operations have functioned on routes They are able to provide cost-effective terminal services. as short as "across the bay" and as long as more than 1,000 mi. There is limited competition from potential marine service More importantly, the researchers concluded that there is no providers. critical distance for determining whether a particular venture will be successful. The specific geographic features of each Unsuccessful ventures also had several of the following com- service must be considered, including the alternative landside mon characteristics: distances and connections. The door-to-door cost was not competitive with trucking and/or rail services. Ventures An attempt was made to develop a market based on the As with any other type of enterprise, there has been a wide characteristics of a preexisting vessel or vessels, as opposed variety of methods, equipment, geographic locations, and to the market characteristics dictating the type of vessel to cargo mixes involved in marine highway ventures. These ven- be utilized. tures have not had a high success rate. In an effort to determine In order to reduce capital requirements, certain ventures what has already been attempted, what has failed, and what has time-chartered their vessels. When the charters expired, succeeded, the researchers compiled a table of ventures that they were unable to negotiate new charters for their vessels can be found in Appendix B. or find suitable replacements. There seem to be several themes that run through the suc- There was heavy reliance on a single vessel. When mechan- cessful attempts and those that characterize the unsuccessful ical or weather problems arose, there was no ability to work