Intermodal to the Rescue

There are no easy answers to the trucker shortage but a project in Oregon demonstrates that intermodal could help save the trucking industry.

This article will discuss how the development and growing use of intermodal facilities around the United States area could play an important role in increasing the number of truck drivers on the road.

Intermodal Facilities

One example of this phenomenon is the development of the Port of Willamette Brooks Intermodal and Transload Facility. There, the Oregon Department of Transportation is funding a single site for development of an intermodal transfer facility to serve the market of abundant agricultural products exported from the Willamette Valley Area. One of the two finalists for the proposal for funding is the Port of Willamette in Brooks Oregon. This facility development will not only provide better logistics connectivity for the region’s producers, but will also considerably improve conditions for the region’s truck drivers.

The proposed intermodal and transload facility will reduce the number of miles drivers must travel to deliver one load, or one container, and send it on its way to the Port of Seattle or Tacoma by providing a rail connection for the largest segment of the container’s journey. This will exponentially increase the drive’s efficiency by making them able to deliver many containers per day.

Many regions have created and benefited from intermodal facilities, particularly on the East Coast in locations such as Cordele Intermodal Services and Appalachian Regional Port, both affiliated with the Georgia Ports Authority; and Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal Virginia. Many other intermodal facilities exist across the country, predominantly to satisfy the growth of e-commerce fulfillment.

While the goal and intent of these intermodal facilities centers is generally to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of distribution and logistics, they have multiple collateral benefits including congestion reduction, fuel emissions reduction, improved customer service, improved transportation efficiency and a potential positive impact on the truck driver shortage.

Calling All Truckers

The shortage of truck drivers in the United States is a well-known issue. The shortage is causing delayed deliveries and higher prices at the store as companies pass on the higher cost to customers.

Many factors are attributed to the difficulty of finding and keeping qualifies truck drivers, including a lack of young drivers entering the profession, regulation compliance challenges and a lack of job satisfaction– most often ascribed to excessive time away from home, perceived lack of transparency in pay rates, health problems and burnout.

While there is no one solution to the truck driver shortage, increasing the number of intermodal facilities can allow truckers to sleep at home every night by creating an environment where drivers can deliver more loads in a single shift, also leading to higher productivity and better customer service.

Knowingly, stress cannot necessarily be reduced by the presence of intermodal facilities, an increase in leisure time at home, as well as more predictable schedule and paycheck can lead to a reduction in stress, in general. Alongside, the trucker’s perceived lack of control over their lives and their schedules are another cause attributed to burnout. Short haul drayage trips, as would be the operational regularity at an intermodal facility, would have a more predictable schedule and pay, thereby reducing the trucker’s perceived lack of control over their day-to-day job

Finally, intermodal facilities have the potential to make trucking a much more satisfying career, increase levels of customer service, and lessen community and environmental impacts such as congestion and carbon emissions.

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Hickory Ridge Group LLC

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