Motor carriers have played a vital role in 20th and 21st century economic development. The motor carrier industry has supplanted other modes as the primary method of ground-based movement of goods. In 2001, according to Cornell University, the motor carrier industry moved 4. 1 billion tons of freight, compared to 2. 1 billion tons moved by rail (2004). As the interstate highway system was developed in the 20th century, motor carriers were able to provide service to previously inaccessible areas. When other carriers went through struggles with profitability and service, the motor carrier industry continued to expand and diversify.
It was the driving force behind the creation and growth of small business. These businesses typically could not afford the higher rates of other modes of transportation. The motor carrier industry provided a more flexible way of moving smaller amounts of goods. As a result, more jobs appeared in previously blighted places. Motor carriers have also played a vital role in integrating large and small metropolitan cities, leading to the growth of each (Logistics Today, 2005). The role of the smaller centers, served most frequently by motor carriers, cannot be underestimated.
They serve as “an important nexus for seamless integration of our vast geography” (Vachal, 2004). 4. Describe the general service characteristics of motor carries and explain how these service characteristics have contributed to the growth of the motor carrier industry. The motor carrier industry enjoys several unique service characteristics that have enabled it to compete effectively with the railroads that came before it. The comparatively low cost for entry into the industry has allowed the motor carrier to provide a diversified array of options.
Motor carriers may be privately owned or for hire. They may operate within a specific locality or provide distant transport. Motor carrier service is more accessible than any other type of transportation. While new air terminals and rail lines are rarely built, new roads are continually being added. This provides a built-in growth factor for motor carriers. While load capacity is relatively small, the motor carrier is often the fastest way to move goods within a limited range (Logistics Today, 2005).
Since the motor carrier is relatively small, secondary transportation is usually not necessary to move the goods from a terminal to their ultimate destination. Motor carriers also offer quick loading and departure, and can often find more efficient delivery routes than rail or sea shipping. In turn, motor carriers can move shipments much more frequently. A variety of vehicles are available for cargo service. The standard enclosed cargo truck with doors to the rear is the most commonly seen. Flatbeds, various vans, open tops and refrigerated trucks are also common.
Motor carriers are particularly amenable to specialized adaptation for the transport of a variety of goods (Cornell University, 2004). The development and air and other forms of transport have not hurt the development of the motor carrier industry. For short distance transport in particular, the motor carrier industry is still the most efficient, flexible and cost effective. Additionally, the other modes of transportation often rely on motor carriers for transport of the goods from terminals to their ultimate destination.