Marine Transportation System

Posts Tagged ‘asia’

The Grass is Greener — Pt. 2

In Efficiency, Intermodal, Marine Highway on January 19, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Envy is a perfectly serviceable starting point for developing national transportation policy. Our new high-speed rail program is an apt example. It’s a Euro-inspired, greenish gleam in a candidate’s eye made billion-dollar real by our new president and the stimulus package. While we wait for our first bullet-ride to Disney World or Albany let’s consider what the national transportation policies of other countries are accomplishing. We continue this series with another look to the north and Canada’s North American gateway strategy. This time…investment in short sea.

This item caught the eye.

Government of Canada takes action to facilitate shortsea shipping

OTTAWA — The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced completion of the Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY) rail barge ramp, a shortsea shipping project at the marine rail terminal on Annacis Island in Delta. This project was made possible by $4.6 million in federal funding under the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.  (release: January 15, 2010)

Turns out the Canadian gateway strategy isn’t just attracting international containers to ease them on down to the U.S. by rail.  The plans for the Pacific gateway include using the marine highway as an “optimizing” element for goods movement.   “Better use of our waterways through shortsea shipping can help alleviate congestion, facilitate trade, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase overall transportation efficiency.”

After a call for proposals five projects were selected for the plan totaling over CN$20 million, to be matched by the private sector grantees:

  • Fraser River Shuttle;
  • Deltaport Shortsea Berth;
  • Vanterm Shortsea Berth;
  • Mountain View Apex Container Terminal; and
  • Southern Railway of B.C. Rail Barge Ramp.

These projects in the Vancouver, B.C. region “call for the development of specialized facilities such as docks, ramps, and fixed-crane infrastructure that would facilitate shortsea shipping of a variety of cargos (including containers, railcars, and break-bulk cargos) that ultimately either originate from or are destined for Asia.”  (release: September 5, 2008)

This marine highway element of the Asia-Pacific Gateway strategy is designed to increase efficiency and reduce environmental impacts of goods movement.  It is intermodal. It ties marine to rail and road.  “The Annacis Island marine rail terminal will provide industries in coastal B.C. and Vancouver Island with rail connections to four major railways: Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe.”   Obviously, an equal opportunity connector.

It may be a fair to say that the above grants planned to boost short sea shipping in Canada’s largest port region are roughly comparable to the marine highway grants program recently authorized by the U.S. Congress. The Canadian grants support pieces of a strategic plan; the U.S. grants will support projects that meet certain market and public benefit criteria and are in designated “corridors.”   The Canadian grants support capital requirements, which the U.S. version is likely to do.   On the other hand, the above grants go to projects of companies, such as terminal operators.  While most marine highway projects in the U.S. are assumed to be private sector initiatives the grants likely would go to sponsoring public agencies.


One googling leads to another.  I’ll close with a video from The Sustainable Region TV program of Vancouver, a place known for its clear skies (and a looming Olympics).    Pbea


Will Ports Be Ready? (Part 3)

In Efficiency, Ports on September 17, 2009 at 11:22 pm

Will U.S. ports, especially those on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, be ready to operate in the changing domestic and international commercial environment? With major shifts on the way the ports that adequately prepare will be the ones to maintain and gain market share.  A shift in buying power—where the consumers are—may be the greatest change facing major gateway ports throughout the U.S.

Consumer Demand
The primary end-consumer of manufactured goods is shifting east—Far East.  For U.S. ports, it is going to be as important to be an efficient “export port” in the coming decade as it was to be an efficient “import port” last decade.

Over the last decade a significant shift in national and individual wealth occurred from America and Europe to the Far East and India.  In the next several decades the emerging middle classes in China and India will be the primary global goods and services consumers.  China already has a middle-class of 300 million, approximately the same number as the U.S. total population.

An increasing demand for goods will be driven by two phenomena: population growth and economic convergence.  The world population (currently at 6.8 billion) is expected to reach 7 billion in late 2010 and to reach 8 billion within 20 years, or sooner.  (Much of this growth will be in Asia and Africa, but by 2050 it is projected that India will be the world’s most populous nation.)

Approximately 80 percent of these new individuals will have discretionary incomes nearly equal to their western counterparts because of increasingly convergent economic patterns for most nations.  Meanwhile western-populations will age and increase their savings rates in order to provide for their retirement years.  In short, the demand will be on the other side of the planet.

The Bottom Line
U.S ports planning to participate in the international trade and transportation business will have to be agile, 2-directional (serving both imports and exports), environmentally sound operations, and take advantage of economies of scope and scale to compete in the 21st Century.  These are business considerations that should be included in a port’s strategic business plan to maintain and gain market share.

T. H. Wakeman