National Center for Intermodal Transportation

From single modal perspectives, the United States has developed one of the best transportation systems in the world. However, because each mode of transportation evolved independently of the others, they are not well integrated. As a result, it is difficult to transfer passengers and freight from one mode to another. Furthermore, some modes are over utilized, creating delays and hazards, while other modes are under utilized and have excess capacity. At NCIT, we believe that the overall contribution of the national transportation system can be increased by the creation of an intermodal system based on a more balanced and rational use of all modes of transportation. As such, the theme of NCIT is to promote the development of a safe and efficient national intermodal transportation system.

NCIT will focus on the assessment, design, and development of planning methodologies and tools, technology, and human resources needed to improve intermodal connectivity, capacity and to reduce congestion in our nation's transportation system. The NCIT will also seek to improve the capacity and capability of the workforce to meet the challenges of the increasingly complex passenger and freight transportation system. Congestion, competition, capacity, and conservation are the major challenges facing the US transportation system that can be met with the adoption of a serious commitment to intermodalism.

The intermodal point-of-view involves looking at how individual modes can be connected, governed, and managed as a seamless and sustainable transportation system. That is, the fundamental objective of intermodalism is not to optimize a single mode of transportation but to integrate the modes into an optimal, sustainable, and ethical system. Such a system should promote efficiency, safety, mobility, economic growth and trade, national security, protection of the natural environment, and enhancement of human welfare. Such goals are consistent with those espoused by the United States Department of Transportation and found in the document titled, "Research, Development, and Technology Plan" (6th edition) as well as with the themes published in the Highway, Research, and Technology report (National Highway R&T Partnership, 2002).

Intermodal systems also play an important role under crisis conditions such as: evacuations from coastal areas under hurricane threat; evacuation of metropolitan areas affected by earthquake, industrial accidents, or terrorist attacks; relief services to communities affected by disaster; highway closures due to fires, landslides, and accidents; recovery operations in devastated areas; and restoration of transport services after serious disruption. In providing solutions for such crisis situations, the NCIT will also benefit day-to-day transportation, which shares with crisis conditions the characteristics of congestion, highway safety hazards, and incident identification and response needs. The integration of the individual modes into a seamless intermodal system has been a national transportation policy since the promulgation of the Transportation Act of 1940.

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