shipping can be a critical component of intermodal cargo traffic that shifts
domestic cargo onto smaller vessels that use coastal shipping lanes,
intercoastal waterways, rivers and the Great Lakes as an alternative to rail or
highway trucks providing a more fuel efficient and greener option for shippers.
It is also possible to take advantage of existing or anticipated short sea
shipping infrastructure to enhance transit passenger and local delivery systems.
addition to improving fuel consumption and reducing emissions from cargo and
passenger traffic, local truck traffic congestion can also be reduced. For example the Port Inland Distribution
Network (PIDN) for the Port of New York and New Jersey where
barges move containers to the nearby ports of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Camden,
New Jersey; Providence, Rhode Island; and Boston, Massachusetts; help reduce vehicle
congestion and air pollution on the I-95 highway corridor. The PIDN has recently been expanded by the
Port Authority and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, extending services
from Maine to Maryland though the creation of the North Atlantic Marine Highway
Alliance. Similarly, Caribbean/Central American ports (Kingston, Freeport,
Cartagena and Panama) are hubs for East coast and Gulf short sea shipping
other hand, short sea shipping may not be appropriate for all situations. For example, short sea shipping for the Great
Lakes provides excellent access to central North American markets, though there
are issues with custom regulations and winter shipments when ice formation is a
concern as well as vessel size restriction associated with the St. Lawrence
short sea shipping is possible, infrastructure changes may be needed to
accommodate increased domestic traffic and to allow easy transfer of cargo to
domestic vessels. This could include use of cross harbor routes that integrate
passenger services with cargo movements. Inclusion of the passenger element could
help reduce air quality impacts of commuter vehicle traffic, enhance safety of
pedestrian and bike traffic, while also improve first/last mile deliveries.
The Maritime Administration’s Office
of Marine Highways and Passenger Services has taken a greater role in short sea
shipping since the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Similarly, the Directorate General for
Mobility and Transportation of the European Commissions has also been
supportive of short sea shipping initiatives in Europe as a method to reduce
GHG emissions by 60% by 2030 by shifting 30% of highway freight over 300 kms to
other modes (including marine).
It should also be noted that
TRB’s Port & Channel Committee, Committee on Ferry transportation,
Committee on Public Transportation Planning and Development, and the Transportation
and Air Quality Committee may also be
interested in this short sea shipping research.
: As marine traffic is anticipated to increase globally, there is concern that congestion will be an issue for truck intermodal transfers. Some of this congestion may be relieved by use of smaller domestic vessels but for the system to work effectively it is critical that the transfer point at the port be developed in a way to ensure efficient movement of cargo between larger ships and smaller domestic vessels. Because ports are generally located within urban centers it is important that these facilities also be developed to support passenger and delivery traffic using smaller domestic vessels and local ferries. Moving cargo and passengers using this system will reduce fuel consumption as well as emission of GHGs and other pollutants., positively impacting local air quality.