The economic market size for global mobility continues to grow exponentially. But what is global mobility? Simply put, it’s More Traffic. The global mobility sector includes the ever-widening logistics, transportation, and warehousing industry built to support ecommerce and to deliver anything from dinner to books to washing machines to your front door in weeks, days, hours, or even minutes.
According to data provided by Freightwaves CEO, Craig Fuller, by 2025, the transportation and logistics industry is expected to grow from $8 trillion in 2018 to $18 trillion in 2025. This means there will be more traffic to deliver the goods we all demand.
We must begin a movement to expand our highway capacity now. If we don’t, we will not be able to maintain our quality of life. We’ll have to settle for the “you better get used to it” maxim, accepting increased commute times, less family time, and diminished air quality. Along with congestion, we’ll experience reduced safety as delivery vehicles and impatient drivers compete for increasingly scarce space on roads while emissions from idling vehicles further pollute the air.
Why not get trucks off the road, you might be asking. It’s a good question. I was surprised to find out that of the 110 billion miles driven by motorists in my state of Pennsylvania in 2016, trucks make up a meager 8.4% of that number. Here in the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern Pennsylvania, we have a strong local economy, and with steady population growth, motorists will continue to add to the traffic count on our highways.
So what if we shifted goods onto rail? Another good question. But think about it. Railroads are well-designed to handle bulk cargo–coal, minerals, lumber–on a steady, predictable schedule. Can you picture railroad tracks installed in every neighborhood to deliver groceries, new jeans, or video games to your home? Railroads are capable of handling higher value freight, but remember how that freight reaches its final destination–in a truck!
More importantly, in Pennsylvania, rail infrastructure, right of ways, and stations no longer exist. Even if we wanted to return to a 19th century consumer goods delivery system we couldn’t without massive rebuilding. According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), 87.9% of Pennsylvania communities rely exclusively on trucks to move their goods. Furthermore, a 2012 survey found that 86% of total manufactured tonnage in PA is transported by trucks.
Environmental concerns are real. Idling engines due to traffic delays contribute and will continue to contribute to our region’s air quality issues. But automobiles and trucks are experiencing real progress as we work to improve fuel efficiency while alternative power types are successfully reducing their environmental impact. Shifting people to mass transit, bikes, and walking will additionally contribute to solving this difficult dilemma. However, consumer sentiment has shown that these solutions, while helpful, will not solve our congestion issues alone.
Starting a movement to fund highway capacity expansion will provide us with practical, proven solutions to enable continued economic growth, will ensure safe, sustainable travel environments for our families, and will improve the quality of life we enjoy in our community today.
It’s time for our public officials to get involved. 5 years from now is too long to wait!