Modes of Transportation

Rail - (12% of total) handles the largest ton-miles in the US. Has high fixed and low variable costs.
  • Highway - (68.9% of total) - largest share of transportation. Has low fixed and high variable costs. Effective for small shipments moving shorter distances.
    • Truckload (TL) is a full truckload being hauled
    • Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) is less than a full truckload
  • Water - (7.7% of total) - includes the Great Lakes, canals, and intracoastal waterways. There has been a shift in bulk transportation from rail and highway to water. Water has the capacity to move extremely large shipments. Ranks between rail and truck in fixed cost. Water is slow and has limited range of operation.
  • Pipeline - (9.4% of total) - highest fixed cost and lowest variable cost. Coal slurry pipelines are a new trend but require a lot of water.
  • Air - (0.1% of total) - speed, but high cost, especially as weight increases. Low fixed cost and high variable cost. There have been the development of all freight airports so it doesn't interfere with passenger traffic.

Transportation Service

  • Ground Package Service - USPS, FedEx, UPS
  • Intermodal Transportation - piggyback service - integrated rail and motor service.
    • Trailer on a Flatcar (TOFC)
    • Container on a Flatcar (COFC)
  • Containerships - One 15-ton barge has capacity of 225 railcars or 900 trucks