In the United States, ground transportation is an essential part of the supply chain. It accounts for a large percentage of shipping and is used by many industries to move goods from one place to another. This article explores why ground transportation is so popular among businesses and what aspects make it such an attractive option.
America’s Shipping Landscape
The United States has depended on its ground transportation network of roads and highways for domestic shipping since the early days of the country. As of 2021, more than 59.2 million tons of goods were being shipped daily, with most of this transported by truck and railroads. To better understand how much goods travel by road in America each day, let us examine different modes of transport and their utilization rates:
- Trucks. Trucks dominate the American shipping landscape, accounting for approximately 74% of the freight value. This ground transportation mode is preferred for its flexible and convenient door-to-door delivery service.
- Railroads. Railways are responsible for the shipment of nearly 25% of America’s goods, providing cost-effective and environment-friendly transportation, especially for bulky cargo and long distances.
Combining these numbers, we can estimate that around 99% of America’s shipping is facilitated through ground transportation, including both trucks and railways.
Why Ground Transportation Dominates Freight Shipping in America?
Here are the major factors that contribute to the dominance of ground transportation for shipping in the United States:
- Accessibility and Flexibility. The nation’s road system provides comprehensive coverage and door-to-door delivery options, making it possible to ship goods anywhere across the country. Because America’s highways can access even remote corners of this vast continent, trucking companies have a versatile network for moving freight from Point A to Point B.
- Speed and Time. While air freight may technically be faster, its limited reach means that ground transportation must be used to get the goods from airports to their destinations.
- Cost-Effectiveness. To ship goods, businesses and industries can choose from a variety of transportation options. For small packages or shipments, ground transportation like trucks are often more cost-effective than rail. Rail transportation is especially beneficial for moving large volumes, offering lower costs per unit than trucks and considerably less emission.
- Infrastructure. The United States has a highly developed highway and railroad infrastructure, making ground transportation the most accessible option for businesses throughout the country.
Freight transportation, which is carried out by both trucks and railways, plays a crucial role in America’s shipping industry. Freight has 99% of the total volume and dominates because it offers accessibility, flexibility (or speed), time-saving capacity/time as well cost effectiveness over other forms of ground transport.
While other transportation modes certainly exist, and facilitate trade – notably maritime and air transport – ground transportation remains the beating heart of America’s shipping landscape.