Theodore Prince and Thomas Finkbiner, two well-known transportation experts (see related article, issue 401 - page 4), released the first report specifically focused on the future needs of a truly intermodal transportation system and proposed 10 specific actions to strengthen the entire infrastructure.

Entitled Leveraging the Freight Network: 10 Steps to Improved Modal Connectivity, their 22-page report is based on interviews with key transportation, government and association leaders.

The 10 steps to improved modal connectivity identified in the report are:

Reinforce the importance of funding intermodal connector projects

  • Expand the definition of those connectors to include more facilities and roads
  • Support infrastructure projects outside terminals, using Federal pre-emption
  • Make freight a Federal issue, using new perspectives on national and local political roles
  • Strengthen the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) by raising fuel taxes and indexing them
  • Maintain the HTF ‘firewall’ to insure that taxes collected aren’t diverted to other uses
  • Emphasize environmental issues to insure emphasis on the prudent use of fuel resources
  • Adapt the airport Passenger Facility Charge model to intermodal as a funding source
  • Develop projects to encourage simultaneous growth of freight and passenger systems
  • Launch a short sea shipping pilot program with new incentives to develop its potential

The report represents the opinions, views and analysis of two intermodal executives with a total of more than 50 years of senior management experience. It was produced by the National Center for Intermodal Transportation (NCIT) and the Foundation for Intermodal Research and Education (FIRE).

‘Our proposed solutions focus on intermodal improvements, which we believe have the power to leverage other freight network initiatives and maximize overall value for the entire network, not just a single mode or special interest,’ the authors’ report said.


‘Our report focuses on the freight system’s orphan’intermodal, which has failed to attract meaningful support because it does not fit within the legacy modal governance and funding maintained by the federal government,’ Finkbiner and Prince said. ‘The consensus is that freight is talking, and the federal government isn’t listening. We find ourselves with a funding mechanism as dysfunctional as the policy mechanism itself. We, the freight transportation industry, must focus on the future, put our arguments aside, and unite on a national transportation focus.’

Finkbiner’s industry background includes serving as president of Pacer Stacktrain, chief executive of the tank truck carrier Quality Distribution Services and vice president of intermodal for Norfolk Southern Railway. Currently, he chairs the board of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver. In addition, he previously served in management positions at Airborne Express and Roadway Express.

Prince is the principal consultant for T. Prince and Associates, LLC. Previously, he served as vice president of intermodal and international for Kansas City Southern, a railway, chief operating officer for the North American services of ‘K’ Line, a water carrier and senior vice president of Optimization Alternatives, Ltd., an intermodal management software company.

The National Center for Intermodal Transportation (NCIT) is a partnership between the University of Denver and Mississippi State University. NCIT builds upon the activities of the Intermodal Transportation Institute (ITI) at the University of Denver and the activities of the centers with transportation focuses at Mississippi State University. NCIT is a part of the USDOT University Transportation Centers Program and was reauthorized under SAFETEA-LU.

The Foundation for Intermodal Research and Education (FIRE) supports the development of authoritative information about freight transportation and acting