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Rail News: Intermodal

U.S. needs a 'truly intermodal' transportation system, NCIT's Sherry says


How can the U.S. transportation system meet its major challenges of congestion, competition, capacity and conservation? By adopting a serious commitment to intermodalism, said National Center for Intermodal Transportation (NCIT) Co-Director Patrick Sherry during his testimony today at a House Committee on Transporation and Infrastructure hearing.

“Increased congestion on our highways, railways and ports, coupled with increasing fuel costs, security threats and competition from developing countries, as well as an impending shortage of workers in the transportation industry and the ever-tightening financial resources, will test our ingenuity and creativity,” he said. “However, I believe that the best hope for the future of transportation in this country will come from the adoption of a truly intermodal transportation system.”

To develop such a system, Sherry recommends transportation stakeholders:
• identify alternative funding mechanisms;
• create a single funding source so transportation project financing isn’t tied to mode-specific funds;
• encourage public-private partnerships;
• develop education and training programs that provide needed conceptual and analytical training to implement intermodal solutions;
• establish better incentives for planning collaboration and coordination at the local, regional and state levels; and
• reform the federal role of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) so the agency is user-focused and service-oriented rather than modally focused.

In addition, Sherry believes the USDOT should establish an undersecretary for intermodal policy.

“The USDOT established an Office of Intermodalism, but it lacked appropriate resources and, likely, the political clout to effect meaningful change,” he said. “Intermodal connectivity and planning need to be a central focus of the DOT’s strategic freight plan.”

Founded in 1998 as a university transportation center sponsored by the USDOT, NCIT is a collaborative partnership between the University of Denver and Mississippi State University that focuses on intermodal education, research and technology.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/15/2006