July 14, 2017

Can Massey Tunnel "Bottleneck" be relieved by Short Sea Shipping?

The CBC reports on a rather sensible potential solution to reducing traffic south of the Fraser River through “short sea shipping”. Terry Engler who is a longshoreman and a   Vancouver union president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 400 noted that  “limiting truck traffic coming from nearby port terminals south of the Fraser River is key to reducing traffic.”
“This would make everything easier for everyone, including the truck drivers, because they don’t make money when they’re stuck in traffic,” said Engler.”
Using a series of barges on navigable waters, up to 100 containers can be transported on each vessel to move goods from the Fraser River port to municipalities through a “network of unloading terminals.” Instead of trucks carrying goods to Deltaport, the distances trucks would have to travel would be significantly reduced, which would in turn ease congestion.
“We have one of the best places in the world for navigable waters,” said Engler. “We should use them safely and properly … This is a way that would make more sense than building more bridges and having more trucks driving.”
The CBC interview discussing this type of shipping is available here.

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  1. Right on! When John Cummins was a Delta/Richmond MP, putting people ahead of party, he promoted this in considerable detail quite a few years ago.

  2. A good idea in principle but perhaps the longshoremen’s wages ought to be trimmed 33% to 50% to reflect market realities ?
    deleted as per editorial policy. Read the policy.

    1. And by extension, an arbitrary 50% paycut related to ideology, not to the market, would not be negotiated. The aftereffects would most definitely have a big impact on the market.

    2. The problem is not the family supporting wages that are earned by Terry Englers union brothers. It Is the free ride that the trucking industry gets by not being charged road user fees that reflect their fair share of road & bridge costs which make both rail & short haul shipping less competative

  3. On the surface this may seem like a good idea, but it could be effective only on a limited regional basis. Most shipper-receivers design their operations and fees on handling cargo as minimally as possible. Having a direct ship-train container loading facility means handling each box only once. Most containers are probably destined all over the continent and trains are the most efficient way to move them long distances on land. A smaller number are destined locally and best handled by truck directly from the ship, again handled only once.
    Smaller regional barges would be effective only in cities with docking facilities. The ship-barge-truck movements impose an intermediate step, and therefore increased handling charges. This probably makes sense for shipping to other coastal communities (e.g. Vancouver Island) where container traffic isn’t that significant, but really doesn’t cut it economically locally.
    In other words, there are sound economic reasons why this idea hasn’t materialized here, whereas they make sense on long river journeys moving cargo deep inland from a seaport, like on the Rhine.

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  5. If you were to implement this scheme, you’d need a lot of waterfront property retained for industrial use and logistics facilities would all need to be located on the waterfront.
    That means curtailing residential and parkland use of waterfront areas in favour of intensifying industrial land use.
    That’s probably a tough sell.

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