Supply Chain Management Research

U.S.-Canada Transportation and Logistics:  Border Impacts and Costs, Causes, and Possible Solutions

An article on U.S.-Canadian border crossing costs to industry.  Based on a policy study for the U.S., NY and Michigan Departments of Transportation on the extent of border crossing delays, and the cost impact of these and other related general border management costs on the overall efficiency of the border.  A total cost impact of some US$10.3 billion is estimated, or some 2.70% of the value of all merchandise trade, and 4.38% of the value of all truck borne trade.

Read the full version of the U.S.-Canada Transportation and Logistics:  Border Impacts and Costs, Causes, and Possible Solutions report  (PDF)


Ocean Shipping In the Great Lakes - Phase I

Dr. John C. Taylor and Mr. James L. Roach December 6, 2005

The principal conclusion of this study is that a cessation of ocean shipping on the Great Lakes would result in a transportation cost penalty of US$54.9 million per year.  The study has been peer reviewed by a panel of four peer reviewers from the agricultural economics and economics professions who concluded that the study methodology and conclusions are reasonable.  The relatively small transportation cost penalty of US$54.9 million is due to the fact that just 12.3 million metric tons of ocean vessel cargo passed into and out of the Lakes via the MLO Section of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 2002, or some 6.8% of total Great Lakes -St. Lawrence Seaway System tonnage.  It is also due to the fact that the costs of the alternative modes, for lakers, rail and barge primarily, are not substantially higher than the cost for the ocean direct routings into and out of Great Lakes ports.  While these other modes have some potential capacity constraints, we believe lake and rail capacity would be able to accommodate the extra volume.   Overall, the conclusion is that ocean vessels on the Lakes make only a modest contribution to transportation cost savings for users of the System.  The calculated cost penalty represents a 5.9% increase in the current door to door transportation cost for the goods currently moving via ocean shipping in the Great Lakes.  The study findings are highly relevant to the growing debate over whether or not ocean ships in the Lakes provide sufficient benefits to society, given the much larger biological science researcher estimates of the costs of ocean borne invasive species.  These scientist's estimates of the costs of existing invasives range from $200 million to as high as $5 billion per year.

Read the full version of the Ocean Shipping report - Phase I (PDF, 6.5Mb)

Ocean Shipping In the Great Lakes - Phase II

In 2005, a report entitled “Ocean Shipping in the Great Lakes: Transportation Cost Increases That Would Result from a Cessation of Ocean Vessels Shipping”

The original report does not call for any shift in cargo to other modes. It attempted to assess the economic benefits to industry of having ocean ships move directly into and out of the North America hinterland. These benefits were calculated as the transportation cost savings from direct ocean shipping as compared to the costs that would occur if the “most likely” combination of alternative modes were used. The report found that the costs of door-to-door transportation for the “most likely” combination of alternative inland modes would be $55 million higher than the costs currently incurred by using ocean shipping directly into and out of the Great Lakes region. It could be said that ocean shipping “saves” industry $55 million compared to what it would cost if these other modes had to be used for whatever reason. 

The 2005 work resulted in a number of issues and questions that suggested further research as well as the need to communicate findings to a broader audience. This Phase II report was developed to update traffic and other information and to develop a more complete understanding of certain issues.

Read the full version of the Ocean Shipping report - Phase II (PDF)

Read a fact sheet for the Ocean Shipping report (PDF).

Read the Peer Review Report (PDF).

Milwaukee Sentinel Journal series on ocean shipping in the Lakes.

Page last modified March 13, 2014