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Highway & Rail Traffic Leads Container Shipments
Recent government report shows interesting transportation trends for U.S. logistics and port traffic.
By Joshua Hughes
Date Posted: 6/1/2007
It’s no secret that the number of cargo containers flooding into the United States has shot through the roof over the last ten years. What many people may not realize is that the majority of containers that are entering the country are through highways and railroads from Canada and Mexico not ports.
According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, nearly 26 million containers entered the U.S. in 2005. Fifteen million came directly from Canada and Mexico.
U.S. container traffic nearly doubled over the past decade and the growth is expected to continue. Even though truck and rail still move more containers than maritime transport, the U.S. ports are booming.
Globally, one maritime container in every nine is bound for or comes from the United States. Beyond the shear number of containers, the size by weight of each container is growing as well.
Ranking second behind China in world maritime container traffic, the U.S. ports are becoming increasingly congested. Because the equipment capable of servicing larger vessels are limited to major ports, container traffic is becoming concentrated at these facilities, which can create serious bottlenecks, especially in preparation for the Christmas retail season. The top five U.S. ports handled over 61% of the container cargo capacity in 2005.
Interestingly, the West Coast ports serve more as a gateway to imports while the exact opposite is true for East Coast ports. One main problem that the U.S. faces is the trade gap. It is importing two times as much as its exporting. This means the congestion problems are only going to get worse, especially at the West Coast facilities.
The large number of imports from Canada and Mexico shows the continued importance of the trade relationship with these two top U.S. trading partners. The number of truck, rail and maritime containers percentages crossing into the U.S. rose by nearly 10% for trucks, 23% for railways and 91% for maritime.
To see more on the government cargo report, visit http://www.bts.gov/publications/americas_container_ports/