Last week’s front page story outlined a potential investigation into Fairview Terminal by the Federal Maritime Commission of the United States Government following complaints about unfair competitive practices such as rail subsidies and anti-NAFTA procedures.
While getting the attention of the U.S. government to the point that there is a potential investigation may not be the best thing in the world, there’s a saying that no press is bad press and it certainly applies here. To me, what this is telling the world is that the U.S. west coast ports are a bit scared of what’s going on here in the northwest part of the province.
It tells me, and probably most who hear about it, that they simply cannot compete with the efficiencies offered by not only Fairview Terminal but by the northern corridor. Yes Prince Rupert is closer to Asia, an obvious advantage, but that alone isn’t enough to take traffic away from U.S. ports. The proximity to Asia cuts down trans-Pacific sailing time, but if Fairview was still running slowly in terms of unloading the containers and berth time and if CN was proving unreliable in getting those containers to market it wouldn’t make a difference or business sense to choose Rupert.
But none of that is happening. The whole process is running like a well oiled machine and making it tough for people to find a reason not to choose Fairview Terminal.
You would think that shipping goods into the U.S. would be best accomplished by landing the goods at a U.S. port, but that’s not the case. The model of Fairview Terminal, which is to take the containers off the ship and put them onto a train for transport to their destination, is much more effective than putting them on a truck that then has to deal with traffic and congestion. And as more and more places look to “go green” and reduce their environmental footprint, Prince Rupert is only going to become more popular due to the reduced sailing time, shore power and the use of train as opposed to large truck. If that requires expansion, Prince Rupert is also better positioned given the amount of available space and the lack of intrusion into residential areas.
So bring on the investigation. Yeah it may be worrisome, but I think it will only prove Fairview Terminal is just better at what it does than its American counterparts.
And won’t that be a tough pill to swallow in a report from the Federal Government?