The transport system is an integral component of modern society. Its proper functioning contributes to the development, integration and growth of the internal and external markets, bringing tangible benefits to the economy. In fact, transport plays the key role in the economic development of any country. It is the basis of the efficient functioning of the economy as well as the prime element of its mobility. The increasingly growing technological advancements make the transport sector a powerful lever of influence and a contributor to the economic development, forming the specific geopolitical vectors in the strategy of different regions on the global scale. The domestic transportation routes have long been the main indicators of the economic and military potential of any state. Therefore, the aspects of the transport policy become a subject of the international relations as well as an essential determinant of the development strategies.
In addition, the attention to the transporting system has drastically increased due to the growing importance of the environmental issues. Nowadays, developed countries strictly follow the set legislation and international agreements aimed at protecting the natural environment thus spending considerable resources on the qualitative upgrading of transportation infrastructures and their components with the primary aim of reducing their negative impact on the environment. The world practice shows that the creation of the efficient, safe and environmentally friendly transport system focused on the interests of the citizens, entrepreneurs, market and society as a whole requires an in-depth reconsideration of the general principles of the transport system and its individual elements.
Lucas (2012) states that, according to the Treaty of Rome (1957), the transport policy has been proclaimed as one of the most important areas of cooperation within the European Community. This decision was made based on the necessity to create the Common Market within the EU, which was not possible without the proper development in the field of transport cooperation based on the free movement of people and goods. However, the implementation of a common transport policy did not trigger any practical solutions until the mid-1980s. The failure to take any considerable actions was caused by a variety of objective reasons such as the lack of the governmental role in the sphere of transport sector, need for significant capital investments without a 100% percent guaranteed return and availability, as well as the existing monopoly in the rail transport as an essential part of the infrastructure of different states. Only the plan to build the Single Internal Market known as EU Project 92 has stimulated some progress in the framework of the common transport policy of the EU.
As a result, the Maastricht Treaty (1992) introduced some innovations into the transport policy of the Union. In fact, the agreement included a separate section on the creation of trans-European networks. The changes at the legislative level have contributed to the achievement of the objectives in the transporting sphere. Thus, in the process of the formation of the EU values, the role of the transport policy has increased. However, some problems remained unaddressed, significantly hampering the implementation of the set plans. Moreover, the national interests of the separate states-members often come into the conflict with the intentions of the Union as a whole. It was necessary to make significant efforts to ensure the liberalization of the transport market, which would lead to the increased competition in the sector and, ultimately, improve the service quality and lower the prices. However, some governments did not fully support this idea, fearing for the national carriers. There was also an urgent need to properly integrate the national and regional transport networks into the unified system within the EU. In addition, the development of the industry gave rise to new problems. In particular, the increasing number of motor vehicles has led to congestions. The accumulation of cars on the roads and crashes at airports contributed to the increase in the levels of environmental pollution and negatively affected the working time and schedules. Therefore, the lack of a common modern transport system that would work for the benefit of its users threatened a sustainable progress of the European Union.
In 2001, the European Commission adopted the White Paper on transport. The document formulated four major EU transport policy objectives, which are the change in the balance between different modes of transport; the elimination of ‘bottlenecks’ in the infrastructure; focus on the transport policies of its members; and support of the transport globalization effect. In other words, the key requirements for the transportation policy of the EU were formulated as efficiency, safety, and environmental protection. The White Paper proposed the specific measures, the implementation of which has already begun and continues up to date.
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According to Lucas (2012), transport is one of the major sectors of the EU economy, which accounts for about 10% of its GDP. An average increase in the passenger traffic is estimated as 1.8% annually while the freight traffic growth is about 2.8% per year. Nowadays, more than 8.2 million people are employed in the EU transport sector while 64% of them are occupied in land transport (which includes railways and roads as well as inland waterways), 2% are engaged in maritime transport, and 5 % in aviation. Another 29% work in the subsidiary or related fields such as unloading, storage, and travel agencies (Lucas, 2012).
In 2006, the European Commission approved the revision of the medium-term prospects for the development of transport in the EU and introduced the White Paper focused on the approaches common to all EU members and a joint dialogue on the issues of transportation. The document contained the industry’s development plan until 2020. According to the European Commission, the primary objective of the transport policy implies the optimization and development of all transportation modes. In this context, particular importance is attributed to the development of intermodal transport, particularly making it more advanced technologically. It is expected that improvements in logistics and the introduction of the innovative technologies will positively impact on the aspects of transport safety and environmental protection.
However, it should be mentioned that the development of the individual sectors of transporting in the EU is uneven. It depends on the degree of the involvement of the nation states into the transportation industry and funding. Now, one of the EU transport policy priorities implies the development of trans-European networks. It should be noted that the European Union considers the possibility of the re-establishment of the EU’s borders and, in cooperation with other countries, reassessing the criteria of global transport corridors.
Air transport is becoming more and more popular in the EU countries. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), during the last decade, the passenger traffic grew by 6.7% and cargo by 5.2%. The IATA report notes that the positive trend is observed despite the increase in fuel prices (Lucas, 2012).
Thus, the European community seeks to harmonize the legislation in the aviation sector. However, this process is very slow, primarily due to the support of the national carriers by the member states. Nevertheless, the EU has opened national markets to competition, allowing airlines to operate outside their countries. In 2006, the EU Counsel of Ministers of Transport pointed to the need to create bilateral agreements between the member states and other nations in the field of air transport and in accordance with the EU legislation.
However, the air-transporting sphere is characterized by the security problems. Although the number of fatalities and injuries in crashes is rather small compared with the road sector, the security measures in the airline industry are very strict. In addition, these strict security rules in the aviation industry are also associated with the potential terrorist threat. However, these rules cause criticism from different sides, and the common position calls for the necessity to maintain the balance between security measures and ensuring the passengers’ comfort.
The current EU transport policy is aimed at the development of trans-European transport networks (TEN-T) to eliminate the traffic ‘bottlenecks’ and help to solve not only the direct transport tasks but also serve the social and environmental objectives, as well as the overall economic development in Europe (Lucas, 2012). The key principles of the implementation of TET-N imply funding of the cross-country projects, optimal and fair distribution of resources of the Community, particular attention to the interoperability of transport networks, consistent implementation of the work, and cooperation between the member states.
The development of road transport in the EU is at the first stage. About 40% of goods are transported by roads. Each year, the number of private vehicles increases. The EU residents prefer traveling in their own cars, so the market is almost completely liberalized and characterized by the strict competition (Stevens, 2013).
However, the main problems of road transport include the high congestion on the European routes, environmental pollution, and high mortality rates in the road accidents. Moreover, the cars are the major source of CO2 emission. Therefore, the introduction of new, less polluting environmental technologies is supposed to be among the top priorities of the EU. In 2007, the European Parliament approved the proposal on the introduction of the Euro-5 and Euro-6 for road transport to reduce the emissions. Nevertheless, of particular concern remains the number of human losses on the roads. However, the current EU’s efforts to improve security on the roads are not enough to change the situation significantly (Lucas, 2012).
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The current transport policy is included in the EU’s neighborhood policy. The EU has established a special group on the problems of transport links between the EU and the neighboring countries to assure the efficient development of the transport interaction. The group includes the representatives of the EU member states as well as 26 EU neighboring states and international financial institutions (EIB, EBRD, and World Bank). The primary task of the group implies the analysis of the feasibility of establishing the common transport network and cooperation on the issues related to the road transport, transport safety, etc.
In January 2007, the Commission released the report, which addressed the general situation of the work aimed at the improvement of the transporting infrastructure in the EU and its neighboring countries. The document marked five promising routes for the improvement of the international transport system. The first route is associated with the development of sea routes around Europe. It can be extended to the Caspian Sea and through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. The northern route connects the EU with Norway to the north, and Belarus and Russia to the east. Barents Sea Countries from Norway to Russia via Sweden and Finland are also connected through the piping system. The central route runs from the center of the EU to Ukraine and via inland waterways to the Black and Caspian seas. Its extension connects Ukraine with the Trans-Siberian Railway and through the Volga-Don system to the Baltic Sea. In addition, the group proposed a number of measures to improve the overall infrastructure by reducing the travel time, facilitating customs procedures, and decreasing the administrative burden on the promising routes (Lucas, 2012).
The mentioned above proves that the European transport policy is currently at a critical stage of development. Its future depends on the rational use of land transport, including the revival of the railways and the development of multimodal transport, by increasing competition, efficiency, the speed of movement and comfort of passengers, as well as improvement of the quality of services offered to transport and reducing its harmful effects on the environment. The joint efforts of the member states aimed at creating effective solutions the existing problems as well as adequate financing of the sector at all levels, proper coordination of the transport policy and other areas of cooperation between the EU member states will assure the positive dynamics of the EU transport system, contributing to the sustainable growth of this sector.
From the other side, the US transportation system is among the most powerful in the world Kaiser (2012). It provides constant and reliable operation of the national economy. The basic services are provided by aviation and road transport. Currently, the US transport system is very extensive and highly developed, which includes various types of transport, such as air, road, rail, and ferry (or water). However, only the first two types of transport can be called the most socially accepted because the number of people carried by them usually exceeds the number of passengers carried by sea and railways. Personal vehicles are among the principal means of transportation in America. However, the social types are also advanced. The US is the most developed country in the world in respect of land vehicles. It is known that most of the US suburbs and cities function due to the flourishing road transport sphere (Kaiser, 2012).
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The main tool of the US transport policy implies the use of the various programs aimed at enhancing the system in general. The formation of the transport policy is based on the implementation of the three major programs, namely the program of economic development, mobility program, and the programs in the social sphere that are directly related to the issues of environmental protection.
The established system improvement programs are adjusted on the regular basis. In fact, the transport is defined as the critical factor in the economic growth. The results of the current program imply a slight increase in prices for transportation services; the rise in the volume of traffic; the reduction of trade restrictions that are associated with the further development of transport; and the possibility of the involvement of small businesses (Kaiser, 2012).
Mobility program provides all kinds of transport serviceability to the population and businesses. The results of this program imply the improvement of the state transportation system following modern requirements; minimization of time travel costs; upgrade of the safety and reliability of the vehicles; and the reduction of the transportation costs.
The results of the transport policy in the social sphere and the field of environment protection entail a decrease in the number of factors having a negative impact on the environment and ecosystems and the reduction of polluting factors associated with the transportation vehicles and emissions.
In the United States, there are many airlines functioning not only on the international scale but also within the country. The majority of flights both on the medium and long distances have become an integral part of life for most Americans (Kaiser, 2012). Contrary to the EU transport system, the rail and water modes of transportation are not very popular in the United States. Train travel is usually practiced during gasoline prices increases, and its popularity is associated with the restart of airports and highways. In fact, the low popularity of rail transport is determined by the high cost of train tickets, which corresponds to the prices in the airlines industry.
The USA water transport has been developed along with the railroads and does not enjoy a wide public use either. However, the United States has an extensive river system, providing various shipping routes across the country.
The following strategies are considered at the regional and local levels of the US transport policy implementation to improve the conditions of the transport use. Their main goals and challenges imply the following:
- To improve the efficiency of transport resources;
- To increase the efficiency of transport in emergency situations;
- To assure timely provision of information on the use of vehicles at local, regional, national, and international markets;
- To conduct research on transport mobility and coverage;
- To develop basic standards for the use of vehicles and transport infrastructure as well as promote the improvement of transport mobility (Staff, 2012).
The United States is characterized by the North American type of transport systems. The formation of the transport network had been influenced by the vastness of the country’s territories and particular features of different locations, as well as a large amount of products, high level of commodity production; uneven distribution of production and population; high transport mobility of the population; and finally, activity processes based on the interregional and international division of labor.
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According to Staff (2012), the US Transportation ranks as the first in the world for many general transport indicators. The key features, as well as key challenges, of the US transport policy imply the following:
- A considerable redundancy of transportation and processing facilities;
- The sharp spatial non-uniformity of the network load, which affects the development of transport hubs;
- The lag in the development of seaports;
- The backlog of urban public transport networks;
- The prevalence of the network pipes of small diameter pipelines;
- The high power freight and passenger traffic;
- The long-range transport;
- The development of long-distance and international communications;
- The equilibrium of the structure;
- A high level of technical equipment of all types of transport.
The key stakeholders involved in the transport policy of both EU and US transport system include the citizens as well as governmental authorities and small businesses operating in the transport industry and supporting services.
Both the US and EU transport systems are considered to be the world-leading examples of the efficient transportation policies. Both of them are oriented onto the satisfaction of the needs of the citizens and businesses in the efficient transport system aimed at assuring the economic development, mobility, as well as the environmental protection initiatives. However, they differ in the field of legislation and popularity of the particular types of transport caused by the specifics of the internal structures of the analyzed economies.