The Scales of Analysis of Maritime Transportation
Maritime transportation addresses issues ranging across several scales, from the port terminal to the global maritime transport system. Each scale relates to a set of characteristics related to network configuration and type of flows.
  • Global. The largest scale of analysis is to look at the global maritime transportation system, particularly the major ports, gateways and transshipment hubs, the network configuration of maritime services, its connectivity, the main bottlenecks (strategic passages) and the assets of global terminal operators. Deep sea services illustrate the configuration of specific maritime segments by shipping lines in terms of ports of call, ships allocated, frequency of services and cost structure.
  • Regional. At the confluence between the regional and global scales, the maritime range is where a group ports are sharing a common hinterland and regulatory regime. This usually takes the form of a maritime facade such as the Northern Range in Europe or the East Coast in North America. Short sea shipping and feeder services from transshipment hubs are regional forms of maritime transportation.
  • Local. Port clusters and hinterlands are interacting between the local and regional scales. The Pearl River delta or the Rhine / Scheldt delta are notable examples of port clusters. Another important dimension of this scale is the port hinterland, which is the market area from which a port draws its customers. Containerization and port regionalization strategies have substantially expanded the hinterland of many ports. The port itself is a local unit of analysis with the terminal being fundamentally the smallest possible scale.