Intermodal Needs Funding And Expansion

The freight industry is talking loudly but the government isn’t listening, said Thomas Finkbinder and Theodore Prince, as they began a press conference announcing the results of their recent study for the National Center for Intermodal Transportation and the Foundation for Intermodal Research and Education.

“Intermodal has failed to attract meaningful support because it does not fit within the legacy modal governance and funding maintained by the federal government.” They referred to an industry that has maintained its modal “stovepipes” and to the fact that transportation has become a policy stovepipe, isolated from other policy decisions related to trade, energy, etc. In addition to a need for a national transportation policy, decisions in the transport sector related to intermodal need a mechanism like the commission handling base realignment, say the two industry veterans. “The federal role in the [intermodal] network should have a mechanism like BRAC for base closure—the vote is yes or no, with no debate,” they continued.

In addressing funding concerns, they reiterated a concern that was echoing the halls of the joint trade show of the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA), National Industrial Transportation League (NITL), and Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA)—namely, fuel taxes are effective in collecting funds, but those funds need to be allocated to the needs of the industry segment that produced them. If the federal government won’t come up with a national transportation policy, the two researchers said, then industry must.

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