Report compares U.S., european water transport policies

May, 31 2004

A study underwritten by the national Waterways Foundation shows the European Union does a better job to promote its domestic waterway system for freight transport than the United States. The study, "Domestic Water Transport Comparative Review," by University of New Orleans professor Anatoly Hochstein, pointed out several major differences between European and U.S. water transportation policies and practices. They are:

> The U.S. collects "significant charges" from waterway users, whereas in Europe user charges are "nearly non-existent."
> The European Union actively rewards shippers that embrace the social and environmental benefits of inland water transport, while those types of rewards are non-existent in the United States.
> The United States has a larger waterways system than the European Union, but the European Union provides more diversified services, is better integrated overall, and exhibits a modest but still higher rate of traffic growth.

Average traffic density in the European Union is 4 million tons per kilometer, whereas in the United States it is close to 12 million tons per kilometer, or three times greater. "This study should be an eye opener for the administration, Congress and the public on the importance of maintaining and upgrading our inland waterways system," said Worth Hager, president of National Waterways Conference, in a statement. "It is time for the U.S. to institute an intermodal transportation policy, building upon the European experience, that takes advantage of the true value and benefits our waterways system provides".