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The U.S Government as a Catalyst for the Development of Innovations in Intermodal Transportation (Case Study Sample)


Chapter 15 discusses the role of government on fostering intermodal transport innovations. The author suggests that the US government should be the catalyst for innovations in intermodal transportation. He argues that industry, in a free market economy, has been limited in their ability to deliver these innovations. 
Do you agree or disagree with the author? Justify you position using historical examples (development of nuclear power has been led by the government; development of new technologies for DOD is primarily driven by industry) to support your argument


The U.S Government as a Catalyst for the Development of Innovations in Intermodal Transportation
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Freight transportation systems across the world create vital contributions to local and regional economies. The significance of such contributions can be seen in the United States that sets the desired demonstration of the economic contribution of freight. In 1997, industry and business transported goods weighing 11 billion tons and of value $6.9 trillion. This led to the transportation of 2.7 trillion ton-miles of products across the United States. American citizens spend a lot of money on commuting, freight movement, and transportation than the money they spend on recreation, clothing, and running household expenses put together (Holguin-Vera, Paaswell and Perl, 2008). The effect of freight on the American economy is vital. It is approximated that one of every ten jobs in the U.S economy is either explicitly or implicitly associated with transportation. Estimates of 4 million jobs are directly related to transportation. This paper argues that because Freight transportation system is important for U.S economy, the U.S government should play its role to improve intermodal sector through developing innovative ways. The U.S government should act as a catalyst to ensure that different parties are brought together to be involved in the exploitation of technologies like information systems to promote standardization, to define shared needs, and to develop research and dissemination of innovation of intermodal and cargo handling transportation.
Intermodal defines ways of planning, operating and developing a transportation system that promotes that development of effective usage of connections between various transport modes and resources. What counts for travelers and business people who transport goods are the timeliness, quality, costs and safety of the transportation. From the past, the US transport system has been playing an important role for the development and prosperity of the country. The United States is known for profound history in intermodalism. Intermodalism dates back in 1926 when the Milwaukee, North Shore, and Chicago railroad created piggyback (truck-trailer) service Hillestad, Van Roo and Yoho, 2009). Sealand Lines in 1929 created a completely new intermodal system which unloaded and loaded railcars into constructed seagoing vessels. Such a new intermodal service was setup between Cuba, Havana, and New York City. Ships used heavy lift cranes to unload and load goods within ten hours. However, excessive regulations, as well as distrust between the trucking and railroad firms, limited the development of the intermodal system. In 1950’s, the Interstate Commerce Commission made amendments to its regulations and the truckers and the railroads addressed their differences and started to exploit the benefits of the commercial opportunities that intermodal piggyback system provided.
Malcolm McLean transformed ocean shipping by inventing the containers which helped to create huge savings, convenience, efficiency and safety. The intermodal rail system spread across the country in the 1960s while the idea of utilizing containers via sea transportation developed across Atlantic and Pacific oceans (Meisel, Kirschstein, and Bierwirth, 2013). Trucks and rails also transported other containers to other U.S destinations. These technological innovations facilitated intermodal transfers to enable rapid transportation. Airfreight was developed to deliver containers that ships, rails and trucks transported.
The U.S government has gradually come to realize the significance of intermodal solutions to the transportation needs of the country. In 1983, the Congress enacted the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). The Act rec...
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