Marine Transportation System

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Are We Intermodal Enough Yet?

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2009 at 6:16 pm

“The preamble to ISTEA [1991] said that our goal should be "to develop a National Intermodal Transportation System that is environmentally sound, provides the foundation for the Nation to compete in the global economy and will move people and goods in an energy efficient manner.” Its language is still refreshing 18 years later.  What is striking about it is that it doesn’t mention individual modes but focuses policymakers’ and the public’s attentions on moving people and goods–the reason transportation exists in the first place.“ – Steven Van Beek, Eno Transportation Foundation

"Concern about intermodal issues was a constant theme in our outreach meetings during the [Obama] transition…. The symbolism of dropping the "I” from ISTEA was not lost on many.  While returning it might create an unworkable acronym, the spirit needs to be there.  Perhaps the next bill should update the ISTEA preamble and policy statement–and maybe we should even do what Senator Moynihan always wanted done, and post that policy statement in every DOT office.  Short of that, the Department’s leadership should refocus on the principle of One DOT and the primacy of looking at the needs of passengers and freight, not the shape of programs and funding.“  – Mort Downey

"A simple example of how we have fallen short – a debate exists today over whether highway and road signing should universally reflect multimodal choices that travelers can take.” – Rich Sarles, NJ Transit

“But the bigger question is – intermodal enough for what? What are we hoping intermodalism will help us achieve? And how will we know when we’ve gotten there?” – Susan Zielinski, SMART, UMich

The National Journal asked “Are We Intermodal Enough Yet?"  The replies are predictibly in the negative and also instructive. The National Journal transportation "experts” blog is worth an occasional visit. – Pbea

Are We Intermodal Enough Yet?


Desirable: DOT Coordination Without…And Within

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2009 at 5:52 pm

“These principles mean that we will all be working off the same playbook to formulate and implement policies and programs. For the first time, the Federal government will speak with one voice on housing, environmental and transportation policy,” said the HUD Secretary about the Obama Administration’s “sustainable communities"  agreement between USDOT, HUD and EPA.

That’s good…now how about within the transportation family?  The new and laudable interagency agreement makes us wonder again if someday the USDOT member agencies–particularly the modal administrations–will adopt and practice intermodal principles and a mechanism for coordination.  "A framework to guide decisions,” to borrow from the EPA Administrator’s quote.  House Transportation chair Jim Oberstar (D-MN) is intent on forcing modal coordination in the next TEA bill.  Maybe Secretary LaHood will come up with his own approach.  But it would have to be one that can overcome a fair measure of skepticism in and outside the department about the feasibility of a one-DOT approach.  (Is there such a thing as an intra-agency memorandum of agreement?)  – Pbea

Desirable: DOT Coordination Without…And Within