The Economic Importance of the Transportation Sector in North America

Damian Kulash, of the Eno Foundation, talked about the ways in which the North American transportation system provides vast economic benefits to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. From a historical perspective, transportation systems have played a central role in opening up new areas for development. They have been a catalyst for economic activity, and have served as a key factor in enhancing economic productivity. Transportation investments influence where economic growth happens and how much growth occurs. Most every facet of modern society relies on transportation to some extent, and many industries, such as catalog businesses and overnight package delivery, are almost entirely built around the transportation system.

In the future, continued growth in transportation services will likely occur in the United States and Canada, and will certainly occur in Mexico as it continues to develop economically. Because of the growing integration of these three countries' economies, particularly under NAFTA, transportation will play an increasingly important role in our shared economic future. Kulash noted that, in particular, maintenance and improvement of interstate highway systems may be of prime economic importance. Also, intermodal freight traffic is one of the fastest growing parts of the overall transportation scene, and thus greater attention needs to be paid to better integrating the road, rail, aircraft, and shipping transport systems.

In the United States, over $1,150 billion (about 1/6 of the country 's GNP ) is devoted each year to transportation products and services 1 ; the majority of this investment comes from the private sector. On the individual level, transportation accounts for about 19 percent of consumers' total expenditures, second only to housing. Canada, as one of the most urbanized countries in the world, also is highly dependent upon the transportation sector, and its private vehicle and parts manufacturing industries form a major part of its economy. While Mexico's economy is not nearly as dependent on transportation as the United States' or Canada's, it is rapidly heading in that direction.

1  

Transportation In America, 14th Ed. supplement, Eno Transportation Foundation, 1997.



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Atmospheric Change and the North American Transportation Sector:: Summary of a Trilateral Workshop The Economic Importance of the Transportation Sector in North America Damian Kulash, of the Eno Foundation, talked about the ways in which the North American transportation system provides vast economic benefits to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. From a historical perspective, transportation systems have played a central role in opening up new areas for development. They have been a catalyst for economic activity, and have served as a key factor in enhancing economic productivity. Transportation investments influence where economic growth happens and how much growth occurs. Most every facet of modern society relies on transportation to some extent, and many industries, such as catalog businesses and overnight package delivery, are almost entirely built around the transportation system. In the future, continued growth in transportation services will likely occur in the United States and Canada, and will certainly occur in Mexico as it continues to develop economically. Because of the growing integration of these three countries' economies, particularly under NAFTA, transportation will play an increasingly important role in our shared economic future. Kulash noted that, in particular, maintenance and improvement of interstate highway systems may be of prime economic importance. Also, intermodal freight traffic is one of the fastest growing parts of the overall transportation scene, and thus greater attention needs to be paid to better integrating the road, rail, aircraft, and shipping transport systems. In the United States, over $1,150 billion (about 1/6 of the country 's GNP ) is devoted each year to transportation products and services 1 ; the majority of this investment comes from the private sector. On the individual level, transportation accounts for about 19 percent of consumers' total expenditures, second only to housing. Canada, as one of the most urbanized countries in the world, also is highly dependent upon the transportation sector, and its private vehicle and parts manufacturing industries form a major part of its economy. While Mexico's economy is not nearly as dependent on transportation as the United States' or Canada's, it is rapidly heading in that direction. 1   Transportation In America, 14th Ed. supplement, Eno Transportation Foundation, 1997.