Assessment of the U. S. Marine Transportation System: A Report to Congress   [open pdf - 491KB]

The U.S. Marine Transportation System (MTS) consists of waterways, ports and their intermodal connections, vessels, vehicles, and system users. Each component is a complex system within itself and is closely linked with the other components. It is primarily an aggregation of State, local, or privately owned facilities and private companies. As with the U.S. economy as a whole, decision making and investment are primarily driven by the marketplace. In addition, national, State, and local governments participate in the management, financing, and operation of the MTS. More than 1,000 harbor channels and 25,000 miles of inland, intracoastal, and coastal waterways in the United States serve over 300 ports, with more than 3,700 terminals that handle passenger and cargo movements. The waterways and ports link to 152,000 miles of rail, 460,000 miles of pipelines, and 45,000 miles of interstate highways. Vessels and vehicles transport goods and people through the system. The MTS also contains shipyards and repair facilities crucial to maritime activity. As the world's leading maritime and trading nation, the United States relies on an efficient and effective MTS to maintain its role as a global power. The MTS provides American businesses with competitive access to suppliers and markets in an increasingly global economy. The MTS transports people to work; provides them with recreation and vacation opportunities; puts food on their tables; and delivers many of the items they need in their professional and personal lives. Within the United States, the MTS provides a cost-effective means for moving major bulk commodities, such as grain, coal, and petroleum. It is a key element of State and local government economic development and job-creation efforts and the source of profits for private companies. With its vast resources and access, the MTS is an essential element in maintaining economic competitiveness and national security.

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