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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Long-haul Trucks vs Freight Trains

Aloha Everyone,

The U.S. Interstate road system is excellent. They are well-maintained and definitely well utilized for commercial vehicles as well as passenger cars. Today, we took Interstate 40 South from Gallup, New Mexico to Williams, Arizona. During the total trip of approximately 200 miles and about 4 hours. J.J. and I encountered so many freight trucks on the road. It is one of the things that makes me uncomfortable about driving on highways. While most of the truck drivers are experienced and abide by road courtesy, there are some that tailgate you when they try to pass.

Today is Saturday and there seemed to be even more trucks on the go. We have also been seeing so many freight trains especially in Arizona and New Mexico. So we were discussing about which mode of transportation is more cost efficient and less impact on our environment -- long-haul trucks or freight trains.

According to one source, 70 percent of all freight transported in the US. are by truck. Trucks consume lots of fuel which impact the environment. Trucks weight can cause damage to our roadways. An estimate by The Association of American Railroads, on average, a freight train can move 1 ton of freight about 484 miles on just one gallon of fuel. Warren Buffet, the “Oracle of Omaha,” invested by purchasing the BNSF Railway Co. in 2009. Matt Rose, CEO of BNSF stated that while trucks have reached their peak of efficiency, trains have not.

Supply chain and operations management professor at Rutgers University Business School MBA Program, William Nickle, said “One of the biggest differences between roads and railroads is that the infrastructure for trains is financed by private individuals, and the infrastructure for trucks (roadways, bridges, etc.) is financed by the government. A government that is as in debt as ours has not been able to invest enough to revitalize and resolve all of the current issues with the infrastructure the trucking industry relies upon.” Nickle does add, though, that there will always be a need for inter-modal transport, such as trains and trucks to take the freight the last leg of its journey to its destination.

Honu runs on diesel #2 which is ultra low sulphur diesel. It refers to grade from the refining process. While price of diesel #2 has been dropping in the last few weeks, we are still paying between $3.59 and $4.10 per gallon.  We have traveled over 25,000 miles with Honu averaging 18 miles per gallon.

If you are  interested in doing more reading, please go to:

Tonight we are back in Williams, AZ. It's extremely windy and the temperature overnight is expected to go below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. With wind-chill factor, the security personnel of the RV park is cautioning us that it might freeze overnight and not to leave our outside water hose on.

Aloha -- Cathi