The impact of changing cargo handling techniques on South Island ports
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This study is concerned with the large and complex subject of transport planning. In particular it focuses on the problem of evaluating competing or proposed modifications to a transport system in terms of their system-wide implications. That is, the manner in which particular course of action will affect the other components which together make up the system, is examined. Prediction of the impacts associated with any plan requires prediction of the corresponding pattern of flows which will then occur in the often multimodal transport network. To analyse a transport problem systematically a wide variety of alternatives must be studied and their differential impacts traced out. Given that a country's (or region's) major impetus for growth stems from its ability to produce goods and services demanded by the international (or national) economy, and to market these competitively against other countries (or regions), transport facilities, by linking production and consumption centres, clearly playa distinct role in influencing both the pattern and magnitude of growth. Though it is usually realised that transport facilities are critical and basic, there is a large degree of uncertainty surrounding the effects which may follow modifications or innovations to an existing system. Such uncertainty poses real problems to the transport planner. Like other capital goods, transport systems continually wear out and must be replaced, and additional investment may be required to keep pace with growth; certain resources must be allocated to enable its role to be accomplished in a satisfactory and efficient manner. In view of the rapid rate of technological advance currently being experienced within the transport industry, it is essential that in replacing or expanding the system due attention be taken of emerging techniques. Detailed analysis must support these investment decisions as there are usually several different ways in which resources may be allocated to the transport sector, and a country burdened with debts from an outdated transport system is hardly aided in its development ambitions. In approaching such investment decisions it is important to realise that the demand for transport is a derived demand. That is, the level of demand for the movement of goods is derived from the demand for the goods being shipped. There is no point in merely moving products from one place to another. Bearing this in mind, it is clear that investment decisions must be made with an awareness of the objectives of the particular transport system. Although the selection of these objectives is a task for government, it must be appreciated that these decisions will have a differential impact, both spatially and in terms of groups affected. A theoretical example illustrates this point: (i) With the introduction of new facilities into the transport system, direct savings will initially occur to the transport operator. These may be in the form of reduced operating costs, or time savings which serve to increase the productivity of his plant. The extent to which these benefits will be passed on to the producers of goods - perhaps in the form of freight reductions or improved service - will depend upon the level of competition or governmental price regulations. (ii) Should this improvement result in a transport cost reduction to the producer, it may enable him to compete in more distant markets - this enlarged market allowing economies of scale in production to be obtained. In addition, transport improvements may increase or decrease the relative desirability of certain locations, necessitating a producer having to relocate in order to compete. (iii) Assuming the existence of competition, there may be a reduction in the sales price to the consumer. For some products this may lead to an increase in demand, resulting in increased production and further demand for transport. (iv) While government itself will benefit by this increased production, it may also determine which groups will benefit from these savings in cost - by manipulating the location of facilities, its regulation policies and tax structure. Furthermore the direct expenditure of government funds on transport projects within a region will cause an immediate increase in the amount of money circulating within that local economy. This will be at least of short-term importance. (1) Through its control over the transport system, exercised through various rate, entry and investment regulations, government has a powerful means of guiding the development process. As well as determining the location, magnitude and timing of this investment, it may also affect income redistribution. To ensure that this control is used in. accordance with development objectives, it is vital that the widespread consequences which may result from changing the structure of a transport system, or the nature of transport services, be understood.