Tuesday, August 31, 2010

US Shipping Interests Consider The FREIGHT Act 2010

So Much Work - So Little Money
Shipping News Feature

US – The latest debate in American trucking circles concerns the so called FREIGHT Act 2010 proposed by Democrat Senator Frank Lautenberg and two of his party’s collaborators. The Focusing Resources, Economic Investment, and Guidance to Help Transportation Act, to give it the usual laborious, excuse for an acronym, title is a creditable attempt to develop a scheme which will be a nationwide blueprint for cargo carriage by strategically improving transport infrastructure whilst improving environmental and safety conditions and improving transport times.

All very laudable and, one would imagine, to be welcomed by shipping executives throughout the country. The problem however is that the issues are dividing areas of the transport industry by aiming at a multimodal Shangri La which some hard bitten experts see as unattainable.

Generally across the freight industry the Act has met with tacit approval with Rail freight, Port and Warehouse interests all generally supporting the scheme. The nature of prioritisation however has the trucking lobby concerned that there will not be the money available to upgrade highway infrastructure which they feel is essential, although port connective roads are apparently mentioned in the full version of the bill, outline details of which can be found HERE.

The main objectors to the bill appear to be the American Trucking Associations who are obviously concerned that additional funding they had felt was assured for highway development may now be thrown back into the revised pot to join the queue of tenders and priorities.

Now the concern must be that without overall support from all facets of the freight and logistics sectors the Act will descend to a squabble between vested interests and lobbying groups with some of the monies originally intended to finance freight development going on the black hole of public transport, principally high speed passenger rail lines, which tends to be more voter friendly.

So in summary expect more delay and prevarication by committees and sub committees as politicians’ fence endlessly and fail to institute a complete package which includes highway development alongside all the other essential links required to form an efficient supply chain.

This Bill is good, but is it good enough and is there the money available to make it so, as we see domestic freight levels stagnant or shrinking?

Photo: Senator Frank Lautenberg (left) viewing the devastation in Port au Prince, Haiti with colleague Congressman James L. Oberstar in February this year.