In a laissez-faire market, the “just in case” wharf at Montreal may
berth fewer super ships over a given 12-month period than a single wharf
at the Port of Toronto over an operating season of 250 days per year.
Moving containers by road from a central terminal in Montreal would
increase the problem of chronic gridlock on a road system that is
literally falling apart. An assembly of barges that arrives at Montreal
could instead be split up and sent to multiple smaller wharfs around
Montreal and to upstream locations along the St. Lawrence River.
Multiple decentralized marine terminals spread out over a wider
geographic area would reduce the number of trucks that would otherwise
be delayed in gridlock on Montreal area roads, their added weight
damaging the roads. Participants in a laissez-faire free market in
transportation would develop methods by which to assure the efficient
operation of decentralized terminals, from where trucks would move
containers over shorter distances to their final destinations. Barge
trains could feasibly carry containers between Melford terminal and
multiple terminals around and upstream of Montreal, offering customers
the possibility of lower transportation costs. But government officials
often prefer centralized control to autonomy and support large
centralized transportation terminals instead of multiple decentralized
terminals that would more efficiently serve the needs of customers.
The waterway that connects the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Great Lakes
is subject to government ownership and control. It provides
hydroelectric power at four locations, it provides municipalities with
drinking water, it is the sewer into which waste products are dumped, it
serves the needs of recreational boating and it serves as a
transportation corridor. The concept of property rights along the
waterway was discontinued decades ago, allowing for the dumping of toxic
waste into the waterway with little regard for the residents who live
downstream along the waterway.
The state-owned and -controlled maritime transportation corridor
operates at well below its design capacity and capability. The impending
arrival of super ships at East Coast deep-sea ports opens new
opportunities to improve the operating efficiency of the inland waterway
that connects to the Great Lakes. It is technically possible to develop
commercial maritime transportation vessels to sail the inland waterway
without polluting the water. It is also technically possible to greatly
improve the productivity of commercial ships that sail along the Seaway.
The future productivity of the inland waterway would benefit greatly
from allowing private initiative to prevail. Ships that sail the world’s
oceans have become progressively larger and more productive in their
fuel consumption and crew requirements. In contrast, since the inland
waterway was built, ship carrying capacity, crew productivity, and fuel
consumption have remained unchanged for over 50 years. Such is the
hallmark of state ownership and control.