Source: adapted from Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority
(Google Earth Placemark)
- Locally bound freight flows. About 80% of all freight tonnage originating in Southern California stays in the region. For international trade, Southern California is the destination of nearly 25% of all inbound cargo coming through the ports. Another 25 to 35% of the cargo temporarily transits through Southern California as part of a value-added process within commodity chains. Thus 50 to 60% of all inbound cargo is not very suitable to be carried through the Alameda Corridor. Because of the implied lower costs and shorter transit times, local and regional shippers find it more convenient to haul freight directly from the port cluster.
- Relative transport costs. The trucking industry has experienced a lot of rationalization since the Alameda project was planned in the 1980s with the emergence of large carriers efficiently managing their distribution and lowering their costs. The anticipated comparative advantage of using the corridor has not fully materialized, making it cheaper and easier to move containers by truck than by train. Corridor fees are $22.25 per TEU for a full container and $5.33 per TEU for an empty container.
- Relocation of the bottleneck. Travel time reduction provided by the corridor could be offset by congestion at other rail terminals up the chain, starting at downtown Los Angeles. For some cargo, particularly time sensitive freight, a direct haul by truck from the port cluster to an inland intermodal facility is more efficient than using the Alameda Corridor. For instance, the Intermodal Container Terminal Facility (ICTF) is located just 5 miles from the port and performed 710,000 rail lifts in 2007. It is mainly used for containers trucked to and from the port in a more time effective way than the corridor.
- High intermodal costs. It is a well known fact in transport economics that due to rather high intermodal costs, rail starts to have cost advantages for distances of more than 1,000 miles. This enables rail operators to amortize these intermodal costs. In addition, drayage and terminal handling for the Alameda Corridor add 8 to 24 hours compared to trucking. Intermodal rail operations have limited activities for distances under 750 miles. The corridor thus represents an unusual distance for regular intermodal freight distribution.
- Freight distribution centers. There is a large concentration of FDCs in the Los Angeles metropolitan area performing their value added functions (sorting, assembling, packing, etc.). The great majority of those FDCs were designed to accommodate trucks. For these activities using the Alameda Corridor would imply additional costs and delays. In addition, several distribution centers are receiving international containers trucked from the port. They are then unloaded and their contents placed in 53 domestic containers, which are trucked back to a rail yard and shipped to their final destination. Domestic containers are easier to handle on the national intermodal transport system in addition to have a greater capacity. Thus, three maritime containers can be transshipped into two domestic containers.