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Ottawa must treat transportation as a system not individual modes: Karygiannis

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Future investment decisions and policies must deal with transportation as a system, rather than as...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Future investment decisions and policies must deal with transportation as a system, rather than as a collection of individual modes, Jim Karygiannis, parliamentary secretary for the transportation minister, told delegates attending a transportation outlook conference here yesterday.

Ottawa’s role should be to create the conditions for the transportation industry to grow and become more competitive, Karygiannis, speaking on behalf of new transport minister Tony Valeri, told delegates attending the conference, hosted by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation.

"We will need to develop economic frameworks that give service and infrastructure providers the flexibility and the ability to grow while benefiting all users," he said. "we also need to focus more on the needs of users the shippers, the forwarders, the travellers rather than maintaining the status quo or protecting market share."

Karygiannis said minister Valeri has identified four pillars on which future transportation policy must be built.

– a market-driven policy framework;
– a multimodal infrastructure strategy;
– an efficient and secure trade corridor policy; and
– research and development, to support transportation innovation.

Truckers will be particularly interested in the second and third pillars.

A multimodal infrastructure strategy would encourage better connections between modes welcomed news for truckers frustrated by long line-ups at intermodal terminals.

"We all recognize that a productive and competitive economy requires more coordination and integration between modes. At present, strategic alliances between modes are still the exception rather than the rule," Karygiannis said.

It was an important point for Karygiannis to make because David Collenette, the former transport minister, was sometimes accused of playing favorites among the modes. Many of the delegates in attendance were from Transport Canada so the address also served as indication of policy direction to those entrusted with helping draft legislation.

Ottawa’s multimodal infrastructure strategy must also ensure a "consistent, nation-wide approach to funding for transportation infrastructure, in particular our national highway system," Karygiannis said, addressing another major beef for truckers.

"Canada is the only G7 country without an ongoing national highway program," he acknowledged, echoing what the Canadian Trucking Alliance has been saying for years.

Karygiannis also stressed the importance of developing an efficient and secure trade border. He called for the establishment of a bi-national intelligent transportation systems architecture to ensure that different technologies at the border can work together.

And he had a lot to say about the future role of technology, making the case for increased investment in this area to support improvements in transportation productivity and competitiveness.

"We need to build more partnerships in the areas of research, technological applications and assistance in commercialization of transportation technologies and science. We need a steady flow of new ideas to advance technologies and science to support intermodal integration, improved infrastructure design, congestion management, supply chain logistics and environmental initiatives," he said.

Karygiannis began his address by acknowledging that the importance of transportation to Canada’s economic viability it’s the country’s third largest economic sector and charged with moving more than $1 trillion worth of goods annually is sometimes forgotten.

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