Traffic sucks, and while COVID-19 will have many lasting impacts, traffic in many cities is already reaching pre-pandemic levels. Our work commute is a big part of this, but in an increasingly hybrid workforce and with more high-density public transportation options, there’s another significant category. Currently, most freight in the US is carried by trucks, meaning a lot of this traffic is truck traffic. Of course these trucks are central to our economy, we can’t just take them off the road…right? Above is a simple visualization showing freight drayage entering and leaving Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego (source). While some of the routes go inland, a lot of the traffic is coastal.
Given the well-documented lower dollar and carbon cost of shipping over water, we believe a lot of this long range traffic could be moved onto barges, leaving inland and last mile delivery to trucks. Most people would agree they could do with less vehicles on the road, particularly enormous and dangerous trucks. Additionally, a single barge can carry the load of 70-170 trucks, and where adding a lane to a highway can cost billions of tax dollars and take years, adding a lane to a shipping route is cheap and immediate! As our economy rebounds from this pandemic and grows, more goods will need to be moved. For some routes, trucks are the only option, but for others, we can make the choice to keep our traffic under control and our morning commute in check.