Insights - June 2016 - (Page 7)
At 25, IANA Exceeds Goals
When it comes to
transportation, John McQuaid
has lived it - from trucking
to rail to the evolution of
intermodal. As the first
president of IANA, McQuaid
helped set some lofty goals
for the association and the
industry. In a conversation
with Insights for IANA's 25th
anniversary retrospective, he
traces some of the history of intermodal, from a marginal
business facing heavy competitive pressures, to a top
revenue producer for motor carriers and the railroads
and a vital tool for supply chains.
Q: How has intermodal changed or driven changes that
you may not have anticipated in the early days when
IANA was getting started?
McQuaid: The role of technology in terminal
operations and, in particular, gate operations has
facilitated efficiencies that I don't think we anticipated.
This was absolutely necessary as a consequence of the
growth of intermodal, particularly at the ports - though
the railroads have done the same - it is more magnified
at the ports.
Even the way IANA's interchange agreement has
evolved and the platforms they have now created as a
result of that work have facilitated a much more efficient
The technology in terms of dealing with the
movement of freight within each of the networks has
been a remarkable contribution to growth that we didn't
necessarily see as being such an engine back in the late
80s and early 90s.
Q: When IANA was formed 25 years ago, intermodal
was a fledgling market segment in transportation.
What were some of the initial challenges that its
supporters had to overcome to gain acceptance and
respect for the mode?
McQuaid: One of the real challenges at the outset
was shifting railroad thinking about operations. The
railroad concerns at that time were more about moving
the trains and less about customer needs. As intermodal
became more of an option for finished goods, the whole
idea of customer service and customer response became
much more important.
When users like UPS came along and started running
intermodal unit trains, the railroads stepped up. They
saw where the mode was going, and they knew what the
The revenue model for intermodal has taken time
to evolve. For the truckload segment, intermodal
was a head-on competitor. Just as the railroads have
adapted and made intermodal an important part of their
operating model, motor carriers have developed their
markets for intermodal.
Q: Intermodal has changed the face of rail and truck
transportation over the decades. What do you see
ahead for the mode? Where are the best opportunities
for growth? The biggest challenges?
McQuaid: If infrastructure is partly responsible for
fueling intermodal growth, it has also been an issue for
the mode itself. APL developed a "well car" to handle
intermodal shipments in order to begin a "landbridge"
service running cross country.
A boon for intermodal comes from the use of
dedicated terminals. But, despite the gains in efficiency
from segregating intermodal operations, there are
consequences. One of the challenges will be NIMBY -
not in my backyard. There will continue to be obstacles
to expanded platforms and terminals, but the best
opportunity for growth is in converting truckload
Solutions on the legislative and regulatory front have
also been slow, due in part to an early emphasis on the
intermodal movement of people.
The unified voice IANA provides in dealing with
issues from terminal efficiencies to equipment and
infrastructure helps ensure progress. Getting there was
not simple. There were complexities joining the efforts of
precursor groups. That effort required a neutral party to
act as an "honest broker," and that was Don McInnes, an
intermodal executive with the Santa Fe Railroad at the
time, who had no ties to any of those groups.
Q: Who do you feel were some of the leading
supporters of intermodal in those early days 25 years
ago who were responsible for the strong industry it has
become? Not just people - along with IANA, do other
entities stand out along with the people who were
June 2016 | Intermodal Insights 7
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Insights - June 2016
Restart Legislation Gets a Restart
Speed Limter Rule May Advance
FMCSA Sends Clearinghouse Rule to OMB
Silver Kingpin Award Ballots Due June 30
Business Meeting Roundtables Advance Safety and Productivity
EXPO Curtain Raisers Spotlight Industry Leaders and Analysts
State of the Industry and Federal Partners
At 25, IANA Exceeds Goals
Port Trucker Case is Tip of he NLRB's Spear Aimed at Contractor Status
People in the News
Welcome New Members
Insights - June 2016