Eno Transportation Foundation

Eno Transportation Foundation



The ability of the freight system to function in an efficient, if not optimal fashion, is critical to a thriving national as well as global economy. Until recently, most users and pro-viders assumed the U.S. and global systems would adjust to deal with capacity constraints. Two issues suggest that we should not assume that outcome will occur.

The first is the realization that the security initiatives we must undertake to defend our vessels, containers and ports from terrorist threats are impacting our businesses and our economies. The costs to implement many of the sound, reasonable operating practices and policies are hitting our bottom lines and, in fact, in the U.S. are starting to show up as a drag on the GDP.

The second issue is the recognition that as we head into a presidential election year, many of our key legislative authorizations designed to support either the ongoing investment in transportation or restructure federal agencies and the way they function are unlikely to be passed as more than just stopgap packages in 2003 or 2004.

What will this mean for our businesses in 2004? First, that we must become more active leaders. We cannot sit back and let the "other person" or "other business" take care of things. We need to react to the recently released Freight Capacity for the 21st Century Special Report 271, published by the Transportation Research Board. In it the authors make clear that even the most pessimistic growth forecast for GDP is in the 2 to 3 percent range for the next five years; at the same time most economists predict a growth rate of 3 to 4 percent. This would translate to a minimum 15 percent growth in freight volumes over the same five-year period. No forecast suggests anything other than small capacity incremental additions to the goods movement system in this same time period. Clearly, this implies greater stress on our systems.

We must become familiar with the issues, stake out a position and engage in the dialogue and decision-making process. There are plenty of forum opportunities, such as those sponsored by The Journal of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, etc. It is critical that we reach outside our sectors and communities to speak within our states, to the business and governmental leadership including our members of Congress, to explain needs, support strategic objectives - including specific legislation - and encourage communication and dialogue. Without it our funding needs will not be met and growing system inefficiency will translate into slower economic growth. We cannot afford that either.