Intermodal Transportation in the US

Intermodal Transportation in the US
Since the pre-industrial era, changes in the amount and composition of cargo moved for
long distances in the domestic and global markets resulted in key changes in freight handling and
movement. Major cargo routes evolved in response to market trends fueled by consumer
demands. The high demand for transportation services saw the conceptualization of intermodal
transportation, which forms a key pillar of the world trade and the American economy today.
Intermodal transportation entails the use of different modes of transport to distribute goods
packed into a loading unit such as a container, from the manufacturer to the client or market. It
aims at integrating several modes of transport to improve efficiency in the distribution of goods.
It has developed gradually in history since the construction of rail networks.
The changes in the transport sector have emerged due to alteration in trade dynamics and
innovation in the society. Actually, the mobility changes in the domestic and global market has
resulted in significant changes in freight handling and cargo movement. Innovation has also
contributed towards the development of better transport strategies and machines. In the US,
legislations have been formulated to challenge state and federal authorities to increase linkages
among water, land and air transport modes to improve the effectiveness of the networks in
promoting intermodalism. Further, consumer demands continue to influence the market trends
and response towards the dynamics in the transport sector. Increased demand for transport
services catalyzed the emergence of intermodal transportation. The model plays an essential role
in enhancing global trade. The US intermodal transportation is essential to the nation’s economic
health and well-being of the users. The creation of better policy and legal framework is
instrumental towards meeting the needs of passengers and business operators, while recognizing
the limitations, socio-economic, and environmental considerations.
The American rail sector experienced challenges in the 1960s. At the time, the industry
had lost portion of its business to other modes of transport. In particular, air and automobile
transport remained attractive to most people. The creation of intermodal transport was
instrumental in solving the crisis as well as developing stimulus to the US rail industry. With
time, traders started experiencing delays in receiving goods hence companies and business
operators lost substantial amount of money. Transport industry is essential in the enhancing the
movement of goods and people across regions. The industry has considerable input on the
American economy (Pallme, Lambert, Miller, & Lipinski, 2015). The US government has
engaged in regulation measures of the industry to help in streamlining the industry. Legislations
such as Motor Carrier Act and Staggers Rail Act have been formulated to make the industry
profitable. Further, these legislations have improved competitiveness and efficiency in the
transport sector. The enactment of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Act (ISTEA) was a
major step towards emphasizing the significance of the new concept. ISTEA also played an
important role in encouraging state and federal authorities to create linkages that would support
intermodal transportation.
In the history of transportation in the United States, four major modes of transport have
been used to carry goods. These are road, air, water and rail. Water transport transports bulky
cargo at low costs while air transport moves light cargo fast. On the other hand, rail transport
moves bulky goods over long distances on land, while road transport moves limited cargo over
short distances. Various factors have to into play in recent years in the US regarding the nature of
transportation, the volume of cargo hauled and the distance covered.
The movement of cargo using two or more modes of transport has been around since time
immemorial. Waterways were used to move goods and people in the early times. During the
nineteenth century, rail networks and railway terminals evolved followed by air and pipeline
networks. Since then, these modes of transport have been used to move cargo from one point to
another in the United States (Konings, Priemus, & Nijkamp, 2008). For instance, in the pre-
industrial era, goods were transferred from ships to wheeled vehicles on land. The development
of docks and ports facilitated the process. After the construction of railway networks and
terminals, cargo exchange among the various modes of transport expanded.
Intermodal transportation involves the usage of different modes of transport. Various
kinds of transport are integrated to improve efficiency in movement of goods and people. Non-
road transportation appears better than road transportation. Road and rail transport requires huge
infrastructural developments. Further, the mode of transport contributes to air pollution due high-
energy dependency. As such, nations around the world have started embracing intermodal
transportation to enhance mobility, and lessen negative effects such as pollution and delays
associated with rail and road transport (Lee, Oduor, Farahmand, & Tolliver, 2014). The approach
enhances connectivity in the regions that are not connected or difficult to move. Intermodal
transportation enhances efficiency in mobility of goods across regions hence remains a key pillar
in trade and American economy.
Business operators also benefit from the consolidation of suppliers. As such, the move
has lessened time taken to transport raw materials and finished products from one place to
another. Intermodal transportation is efficient, economical, and environmental-friendly.
Companies benefit from cost-effective means of transport due to flexibility. Experts consider that
efficiency in the movement of goods has resultant economic benefits. It is noteworthy that the
transport sector is a key pillar in supply chain. Moreover, intermodal rates brings along various
alternatives that allow users to explore cheaper options. Transport goods from California to New
Mexico, for instance, may require utilization of intermodal system. Doing so allows the users to
benefit from faster and cheaper alternatives (Lee, Oduor, Farahmand, & Tolliver, 2014).
Since its development in the 1980s, intermodal freight transportation improves efficiency
and reduces the cost of transport for many shippers. The benefit has resultant effects on business
operators and passengers. The modes of transport involved in the intermodal network offer
differential cost-benefit advantages due to the variation in their average distances covered
(Bhattacharya, Kumar, Tiwari, & Talluri, 2014). Moreover, intermodal mode of transport
provides more value to the consignors and consignees. The benefit is attributable to the high
level of energy efficiency attained because of the integration of various forms of transport
(Bhattacharya, Kumar, Tiwari, & Talluri, 2014). In addition, intermodal transportation enhances
reliability, safety, and capacity. Shippers using intermodal freight transport can access better
equipment and regular transit timetables. For this reason, companies using intermodal
transportation can streamline their logistical issues, which can be cost saving.
Since the 1980s, sensitizations for improvement of infrastructure coupled with
technological developments have facilitated the feasibility of intermodal transportation (Konings,
Priemus, & Nijkamp, 2008). The ISTEA Act of 1991 is proof of the increased emphasis placed
on intermodal transportation by the United States Department of Transportation. Intermodal
transport continues to gain significance in the movement of goods with the primary idea of
consolidating loads to enhance efficiency in long-distance transportation, particularly by rail or
sea vessels. This concept explains the popularity and significance of containerization in the US
today, which is an ideal example of intermodal freight transportation. Through intermodal
transportation, the US consignors are able to move containers for long distances to their
consignees through various chains and vice versa. Firms operating in large plantations, for
example, move raw materials to industries at cheaper costs, and reduced delays.
The growth and expansion of multimodal transportation gradually paved way for the
introduction of intermodal transportation in the late 20
century (Konings, Priemus, & Nijkamp,
2008). Contrary to multimodal transportation, intermodal transportation integrated cargo
movement from one mode to another in a unitize manner. In qualitative terms, intermodal
transportation was very distinct from multimodal transportation. The approach improved
efficiency through increased competition among firms in the freight sector, and sought to
enhance transportation by increasing safety, speed, and reducing congestion thereby enhancing
efficiency. Greater efficiency led to lower operation costs and increased the competitiveness of
American freight firms in the global cargo transport industry. Increased economic productivity
will make the country competitive in the global market hence generate higher returns for the
nation’s future. Also, improved air quality and environmental conditions are essential
considerations in enhancing economic activities.
Additionally, intermodal system is environmental friendly hence effective in improving
carbon footprint. For example, using trucks in transporting goods for long distances has the
potential to emit higher amounts of carbon compared to using electric trains to transport similar
goods. Intermodal shipping saves time for the users. It also aids in saving money since one does
not have to deal with disruptive weigh stations and traffic patterns (Konings, Priemus, &
Nijkamp, 2008). Nonetheless, intermodal transportation encounters challenges such as insecurity
and disruption due to under-served regions. Some regions lack sufficient infrastructures to
enhance the usage of the intermodal system. Shipping, for instance, can only take place in the
ocean or large seas. Further, non-uniform laws detailing the cross-regional movement hinders
mobility of goods (Konings, Priemus, & Nijkamp, 2008). Slow development of infrastructural
facilities has caused the slow growth of this mode of transport, but the decentralization of
infrastructural decisions may facilitate its expansion. As such, there is need to restructure
American institutions and policies to support and encourage intermodal transportation. As seen
in the discussion above, the cons about the process require awareness and increased
infrastructural development to enhance its usage.
Intermodal freight transportation is a significant factor in the world trade today. By
integrating various transport modes, intermodal transportation generates economic benefits to the
users. In particular, the mode helps in enhancing logistics and time management. The
government played a key role in ensuring that intermodal transportation develops through
initiatives such as infrastructural development and enactment of the ISTEA Act of 1991 to
oversee its growth. It offers the shippers several benefits that include reduced costs, reliability,
capacity and more value compared to using a single mode of transport. Better transport services,
efficiency, and convenience in supporting economic activities within a region. It is upon the US
government to work closely in encouraging users to adopt intermodal transportation
Bhattacharya, A., Kumar, S. A., Tiwari, M. K., & Talluri, S. (2014). An intermodal freight
transport system for optimal supply chain logistics. Transportation Research Part C:
Emerging Technologies, 38, 73-84.
Konings, R., Priemus, H., & Nijkamp, P. (2008). Transport Economics, Management and Policy
series : The Future of Intermodal Freight Transport: Operations, Design and Policy.
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Lee, E., Oduor, P. G., Farahmand, K., & Tolliver, D. (2014). A coupled linear programming
model with geospatial dynamic trip assignment for global-scale intermodal
transportation. Maritime Economics & Logistics, 16(1), 33-54.
Pallme, D., Lambert, B., Miller, C., & Lipinski, M. (2015). A review of public and private
intermodal railroad development in the memphis region. Research in Transportation
Business & Management, 14, 44-55.

Place new order. It's free, fast and safe

550 words

Our customers say

Customer Avatar
Jeff Curtis
USA, Student

"I'm fully satisfied with the essay I've just received. When I read it, I felt like it was exactly what I wanted to say, but couldn’t find the necessary words. Thank you!"

Customer Avatar
Ian McGregor
UK, Student

"I don’t know what I would do without your assistance! With your help, I met my deadline just in time and the work was very professional. I will be back in several days with another assignment!"

Customer Avatar
Shannon Williams
Canada, Student

"It was the perfect experience! I enjoyed working with my writer, he delivered my work on time and followed all the guidelines about the referencing and contents."

  • 5-paragraph Essay
  • Admission Essay
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Argumentative Essay
  • Article Review
  • Assignment
  • Biography
  • Book/Movie Review
  • Business Plan
  • Case Study
  • Cause and Effect Essay
  • Classification Essay
  • Comparison Essay
  • Coursework
  • Creative Writing
  • Critical Thinking/Review
  • Deductive Essay
  • Definition Essay
  • Essay (Any Type)
  • Exploratory Essay
  • Expository Essay
  • Informal Essay
  • Literature Essay
  • Multiple Choice Question
  • Narrative Essay
  • Personal Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Powerpoint Presentation
  • Reflective Writing
  • Research Essay
  • Response Essay
  • Scholarship Essay
  • Term Paper
We use cookies to provide you with the best possible experience. By using this website you are accepting the use of cookies mentioned in our Privacy Policy.