Ports have been responding to changes in the liner shipping industry for decades. In more recent times, the focus has been on navigation infrastructure and related land-side investment to accommodate the current generation of ultra-larger container vessels. In 2016, 4 percent of the containerized cargo handled at the Port of NY-NJ was carried on a vessel 10,000 TEU or greater. Today, nearly 18 percent of the port’s cargo is carried on vessels greater than 10,000 TEU. The 14,000-TEU vessels are routine today. Introduction of 18,000-TEU ships to the East Coast is a matter of “when” and not “if.”
While larger vessels have, in many ways, been a response by the shipping companies to a challenging set of transportation economics, it is now becoming clear that retailers and consumers are driving the next phase of transformation in the ever-evolving shipping industry.
Modal split means different things to different stakeholders. From a port perspective, it can mean truck to rail. This trend is already well established and continues to evolve. But ports also serve a local and regional constituency where rail may have a more narrow application. And it is here that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey sees an opportunity to improve both the efficiency and turn-time of containers systemwide. The time for intra-harbor and regional marine highway usage is now.
Together with our regional partners, including the city of New York, the port authority is mobilized to move beyond concept and integrate the marine highway into systemwide application. The old adage about answers sometimes being in your own backyard has never been truer when it comes to the marine highway. Putting it into motion is one of the port’s priorities as we move to the new year and beyond.