Intermodality, E-Commerce, Logistics and Sustainability
Transport Economics, Management and Policy series
Edited by Thomas R. Leinbach and Cristina Capineri
Chapter 2: Shifting Modes and Spatial Flows in North American Freight Transportation
2. Shifting modes and spatial ﬂows in North American freight transportation John T. Bowen and Brian Slack INTRODUCTION: THE FREIGHT TRANSPORT INTENSITY OF NORTH AMERICAN ECONOMIES Although the dependence of the North American way of life upon the car, pickup truck, and SUV is legendary, the relentless movement of goods – by truck and by train, by ship and by plane – that feeds the region’s immense appetite for things is less commonly acknowledged. Indeed, the economies of Canada and the United States are both freight transport-intensive. The ratio of gross domestic product (measured in billions of US dollars), to domestic inland freight (measured in billions of freight tonne-kilometers FTKs), is markedly higher than in the other Group of Seven (G-7) economies (Table 2.1). The transport intensity in Canada and the US is chieﬂy attributable to the sheer physical size of the two countries and the eﬀective integration of each as a continental economy beginning in the nineteenth century. The more recent rise of the Sun Belt in the United States and the rapid growth of Western Canada since the 1960s have stretched production linkages with a concomitant increase in the average length of haul (see Table 1-35 in BTS 2005). The transportation intensity of North American economies has been further facilitated by the relatively low cost of gasoline and diesel fuel. In April 2005, for example, the retail price for a liter of gasoline in US dollars was 0.59 in the United States and 0.74 in Canada versus 1.19...
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