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5 Modes of Transportation

In order to have easy mobility of persons and goods, it is necessary to have a sophisticated and widespread transportation system. This system is made up of five primary areas of transportation, which are:

· Motor vehicles

· Railroad transportation

· Air transportation

· Water transportation

· Pipelines

Each of these five modes consists of different subsystems which make up the system. Each mode is used to transport persons or goods, but in many instances, one mode may be favored over the others. All five modes require some primary source of funds for building and maintaining the infrastructure. These funds may come from a number of different places such as the federal government, state, or the city through which the system runs. Different government agencies have jurisdiction over the modes. These agencies focus on maintaining and improving safety of each system. The individual states also have certain obligations to the operation and regulation of the different modes of transportation.

Each mode is made up of primary subsystems. The subsystems of railroad transportation include freight trains and passenger trains. Freight trains are used to transport goods and materials between cities while passenger trains are used to transport people. Although freight trains are still used all across the nation, rail intercity freight has accounted for a decreasing share of the total ton mileage over the past 30 years. This is mostly due to the increase in truck transport. Rail passenger traffic had also declined over the years until better service was offered by Amtrak and the price of fuel increased. Much of the decline in rail passenger traffic has been due to the increasing number of air passengers.

Air transport can also be divided into the subsystems of passenger and freight transport. Passenger air travel has rapidly increased over the years due to:

· Increasing Gross National Product

· Increasing wealth of the middle-income groups

· Increasing number of nonprimary industry in the economic system

· Increasing amount of general aviation

· Improved technology

The areas for air transport of express and freight and mail has also increased rapidly over the years. This is due mostly to improved technology which has steadily lowered the cost of air transport.

Like rail and air transport, water transportation can also be broken down to passenger and freight transport. Passenger transportation by water only accounts for a very small percentage of water transport because it is very slow and relatively inconvenient for most people. This is primarily used by people for vacation purposes. Most often, water transport is used for freight movement of items that are bulky and of low cost per unit volume.

Pipelines can be divided into two principle classes including oil and natural gas pipelines. Oil pipelines are used to transport oil and oil-products. Gas pipelines differ from oil pipelines in that they are not in competition with other carriers.

Each mode is used to convey certain goods or materials. Highways are most often used to carry motor vehicles. These vehicles may be privately owned, company owned, or even state owned. They may range in size from single passenger vehicles such as motorcycles to large freight vehicles such as triple-trailer trucks. The transport of freight may include anything from raw materials to finished products.

Railroads are used to carry freight and passenger trains. In both cases, the number of railroad cars may vary between destinations. However, it would not be practical to haul a single car for a long distance , therefore, many cars are usually hauled on each trip.

Passenger trains are designed to haul passengers, while freight trains are designed to haul materials ranging from raw goods to finished products.

Air transport is used in the transportation of passengers and freight. Aircraft used to transport passengers come in many different sizes. They range from small single passenger aircraft to large jumbo jet aircraft. Transportation of freight is another area of air transport. Most common is the express and freight and mail carriers. Most of this material is carried by local passenger/cargo carriers. Some military aircraft is used in the transportation of much larger freight. The materials transported by air may include anything from raw materials to finished products.

Another mode of transporting passengers and freight is by water. The transportation of passengers is slow and inconvenient, therefore it is not used very often except for pleasure. The size of water craft may vary from small single seater jet skis to large cruise ships. The most common use of water transportation is for freight. The type of freight moved is usually limited to those classes that are bulky and of low cost per unit volume.

Pipelines are mainly used to transport oil and oil products or natural gas. Oil pipelines are divided between gathering lines and trunk lines, while gas pipelines are divided between field lines and trunk lines.

Each mode must have sufficient funds for building and maintaining the infrastructure. For the highway system, funds come from several different areas. The United States highway system is publicly owned, therefore much of the funds are received from the federal government, however, most of the funds are received from highway user taxes. Federal highway funds are available for construction and improvement of the federal primary system. The state is responsible for the upkeep of most primary and secondary roads. State highway systems may overlap federal systems. The funds for most state primary systems come from the state, while local and county authorities are responsible for secondary systems. Local and other systems usually receive funds from the local authorities for maintenance, improvement, and construction. Toll roads receive funds for upkeep by charging people a small fee to travel on the highway.

Railroad systems are usually privately owned. Most railroad systems are built and maintained by the company, but funds are also provided by the federal government.

The air transportation system obtains much of its funds from federal aid if the facility is owned by local governments (in most cases they are). The airlines themselves are also responsible for much of the funds required to maintain the facility. Small general aviation aircraft are usually privately owned and used for recreational purposes, or owned by businesses which do a large amount of traveling. These facilities are usually paid for by the local area and the users of the airport.

The construction, maintenance, and operation of waterways is paid for by the federal government since the United States Coast Guard assumes responsibility for the supply and operation of navigational aids. While the federal government pays for the waterways, most of the vessels are company or privately owned, with the exception of U.S. Coast Guard vessels. Improvement to ports is usually is usually funded by state or city aid or from borrowing.

The pipeline transportation system is the only mode of transportation that gets no direct aid from the federal government. Most of the funds required to construct and maintain the pipelines comes from the company which owns the pipeline.

Different government agencies from the U.S. Department of Transportation have primary jurisdiction over each mode of transportation. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides funds to states for highway construction, improving, and management. FWHA also provides funds for several state-administered safety programs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) focuses on maintaining and improving safety of motor vehicles and equipment and conducts test programs to evaluate and guarantee compliance with the standards. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) develops and administers programs to achieve safe operating practices in the industry. Primary jurisdiction of airways is controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA issues and enforces air safety regulations, develops and operates the airways, and inspects and certifies aircraft. The United States Coast Guard enforces federal laws regarding navigation, port safety and security, inspection of vessels, and protection of the marine environment. All construction and safety standards are enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard. Pipeline transportation is controlled by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of the Department of Energy.

Many transportation organizations exist at the state level. Each state has certain roles in the operation and regulation of the different modes. States must follow the regulations set by the federal government, but each state can also make its own set of regulations. An example of this would be the N.C. seatbelt law.

The United States transportation system is made up of several different modes of transportation. Each of these modes are operated and regulated to different degrees by federal, state, and local governments. All of these modes of transportation give a great deal of mobility for the people and goods and materials of each state.

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