Nearly 70 percent of the value of U.S. exports to western Canada were moved by motor carriers, compared to 36 percent of Canadian exports.
Canadian traders transport a larger share of their exports by rail (19 percent versus 12 percent) [Ref 3, p D-1.4].
Rail movement involves primarily bulk and specialized commodities such as lumber, newsprint and automotive products [Ref 3, p 8].
3.1.4 Origin-Destination Patterns
Most trade flow patterns between the United States and Canada can best be described as intra- regional in nature. The communities on both sides have developed regional economies that are binational. There are high levels of crossborder commuting, shopping, and movement of goods and services to support these binational regional economies. [Ref 1, p 5].
The pattern of U.S.-Canadian trade in the west is organized into three crossborder trading subregions: the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, and the Upper Plains. Trade flow is focused through a few major crossings. While some dominant interregional flows are associated with trade to and from these border gateways, trade flows beyond the border are diffuse with as many east-west as north-south flows to and from the border. [Ref 1, p 6].
3.2 Rail Captive versus Truck Captive versus Competitive Freight
Trucking accounts for about 80 percent of the value of U.S. exports to both eastern and western Canada. Both rail and air account for about 10 percent each. Air freight consists of largely high value, low volume goods. [Ref 1, p 55].
“Modal shares in the movement of commodities will remain largely unchanged from current values over the next ten years, with trucking capturing 92 percent of the market, rail 4 percent and air and water 4 percent. However, multimodal shipments ..., (which) accounts for an estimated four percent of all movements, is expected to increase its share to fully 15 percent by ... 2002”. [Ref 4, p 39].
Most western border trucking is associated with local and regional trade. Economic sectors of particular importance in this trade are: agriculture (grains, livestock, seed, produce, and peat moss); wood and paper (logs, lumber, shingle shakes, newsprint, and printed material); chemicals, metals, and minerals (potash, soda ash, and petroleum); machines, vehicles, and farming and resource extraction equipment.