Barge Transportation Advantages

North American lock

"Transportation along our nation's Inland Waterways System is both economical and environmentally friendly. In fact, a single barge can hold as much cargo as 15 rail cars or 60 semi trailer trucks! Towboats also offer greater fuel efficiency than other modes of transportation, and as a result, they allow for cleaner air and reduced emissions.

Barges are capable of moving a plethora of products and help power our nation both at home and in the international marketplace. Moving more than 60% of U.S. grain exports, this cost-efficient industry allows American products to be highly competitive in global exchanges. In addition, these powerful boats transport coal and other fuels throughout our nation, providing power, electricity, and heat to homes and businesses alike.

The tugboat, towboat, and barge industry contributes over $5 billion a year to the U.S. economy and provides more than 33,000 jobs aboard its boats and barges alone. This industry also employs of one of America's most incredible natural resources - our more than 25,000 mile long waterway system. Barges provide a strong and effective link within the U.S. inter-modal transportation system, and as a result, helps to ease the congestion of busy highways and booming population centers.

Barge transportation is not only economically beneficial and environmentally friendly, but is also committed to a paramount level of safety and awareness. The Responsible Carrier Program, endorsed by the U.S. Coast Guard and adopted by all American Waterways Operators members, ensures that this industry protects both its employees and the environment. As a result, the barge industry incurs the fewest accidents of any method of transportation in this country.

By strengthening the U.S. economy, environment, and standard of service, the barge industry remains a lucrative mode of transportation and offers the opportunity to improve your business."

The Importance of Barge Transportation for America's Agriculture

Abstract of report from Jerry FRUIN

"A healthy, shallow, draft barge industry is essential to the well-being of U.S. agriculture. Sixty percent of U.S. farm grain, oilseed and feed exports (which is 25 percent of the world trade in grain and oilseeds) is transported on the Mississippi River system. This low cost transportation system is also used to transport 25 percent of U.S. farm fertilizer and is important for other farm inputs. U.S. farm exports are a major factor in reducing our balance of payments deficit and maintaining the strength of the dollar."

Container on Barge

Port of Victoria, Texas

Barge Transportation and the inland waterways are extremely important to the U.S. distribution system. The U. S. inland waterway system is one of the busiest and most efficient transportation systems in the world. These navigable waterways link the U.S. heartland to the world. Over 1.2 billion tons of cargo are moved annually on U.S. shallow draft waterways. The economics of barge transportation are significant. Based on cost and safety, inland barge transportation is the most efficient means of transporting bulk commodities compared with rail and truck. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the cost of one gallon of fuel would move one ton of cargo 60 miles by truck and 200 miles by rail, as compared to 500 miles by barge. Sixteen percent of total domestic freight is moved by barge at only 2% of the freight bill cost. In real dollars, that's a cost savings of $10.67 per ton of cargo shipped when compared to other modes.

Barging on Inland Waterways, Economic Advantages

The environmental advantages are staggering. U.S. inland barge transportation has been proven to be the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly method of moving bulk raw material compared with rail and trucks. One gallon of fuel can move one ton of bulk liquid products 514 miles by inland tank barge, compared with 202 miles by rail and 59 miles by truck. U.S. inland barge transportation emits 86% less hydrocarbons than trucks and 80% less than rail, 89% less carbon monoxide than trucks and 69% less than rail, and 95% less nitrous oxides than trucks and 71% less than rail. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Emission Control Laboratory determined the following:

Environmental Advantages

Water transport consumes much less energy per ton-mile of freight carried than either rail or truck. This factor, combined with the remoteness of the vessel's operating environment from population centers, substantially reduces the impact of its exhaust emissions. In urban areas, noise pollution becomes an additional factor. In terms of safety, it is easy to see that the cargo hauled by one barge, but would require 15 jumbo hopper cars or 58 large semis to haul, is much less exposed to accident incidents. Additionally, truck and train traffic typically go through highly populated urban areas where incidents would have much further reaching effects on human life and property. The U.S. inland waterway system is vital to the national economy and the quality of life of U.S. citizens

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© Copyright Dr Milson Macleod 1999

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Barging on Inland Waterways project: A Barge pulled by a tug Barging on Inland Waterways. Pleasure Barging in France - the Napoleon
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