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Collenette: Alternative transportation modes needed to cure congestion

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. - The Beyond Borders - Trade Corridors Conference was held Oct. 27-29 in Niagara On The Lake.It was an opportunity for Canadian and U.S. stakeholders to deal with trade and t...


NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. – The Beyond Borders – Trade Corridors Conference was held Oct. 27-29 in Niagara On The Lake.

It was an opportunity for Canadian and U.S. stakeholders to deal with trade and transportation issues at national and regional levels.

Among those present was Federal Transport Minister, David Collenette, who says it is an exciting time to be involved with the transportation industry.

“There is now a need to look at all available options and consider the consequences of each, in order to improve the flow of goods and people through the arteries in our cities and between our countries,” says Collenette.

He emphasized the fact that the infrastructure links have to be strong.

“Our efforts on creating a more efficient border began long before 9/11 but the tragedy did heighten our awareness and trade corridors remain high on Transport Canada’s list,” he says. “We will continue efforts with the U.S. in building smart borders.”

Collenette says he is proud of what Canada has accomplished since the last trade corridors meeting a year ago, but says we can be more innovative and break down the barriers at the borders without altering the existing infrastructure.

“The biggest concern is congestion, and we have to make sure we are using transportation links to their full potential. We can speed up the use of technology, for example, we can make better use of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and we also have to ensure that all transportation providers are working together,” Collenette says.

Intermodalism is a viable option to reduce congestion, says Collenette, because by encouraging intermodal exchange, in turn, alliances between transportation providers will be enhanced.

“Some trucking industry members are not happy when a shift from road to rail is suggested, but they really have to look through this issue. It’s one thing to increase road capacity, which has to be done in some areas, but if we’re talking a massive upgrade, I don’t think that is the way to go,” says Collenette. “We have to find a way to slow the rate of truck traffic.”

Although Collenette says rail is the most efficient option for moving freight and reducing congestion at the borders and on the highway system, he says the Canadian economy could not survive without the trucking industry.

“If not rail, then let’s boost our underused seaway system. Some think this is not a practical option, but 100 years ago they used boats and with the rudimentary technology at the time, there is no reason why we can’t do that now,” he says.

Canada’s seaway transportation system, he says, should mirror that of the Danube or the Rhine in Europe. Canadians should take advantage of the year-round service provided by Marine Atlantic, and he suggests that the Great Lakes system could follow suit.

“Sure there will be delays because of the rough weather sometimes, but we would not experience here what they would off the coast of Newfoundland. The Great Lakes are the most environmentally friendly trade corridor we’ve got,” says Collenette.

He says Canadians, together, have some tough decisions to make.

“We’re going to ratify the Kyoto Accord, but it’s not going to happen without changes, not sacrifices but behavior changes,” he says. “We have to encourage alternative transportation in cities and by meeting the regulations of Kyoto, we will also be facilitating trade, because our corridors and roads will become less congested.”


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