The latest numbers from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics shows a stable container transport market with some regional variations. The Waterline report is published every six months by BITRE and provides the industry with a snapshot of the number of container movements in and out of Australia.
The six months up to June 2013 saw the number of TEUs (twenty foot container equivalents) rise less than one per cent. However, the numbers in Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney grew while the throughput in both Melbourne and Fremantle declined.
Adelaide’s growth of 5.4 per cent topped the ladder with Brisbane second at 4 per cent and Sydney at 3.3 per cent. Over the same period Melbourne saw a 2 per cent fall in TEU numbers and Fremantle dropped 2.6 per cent.
The report puts the volatility in numbers down to seasonal variations and Fremantle can be expected to reduce with the lower levels of activity in the mining sector. Over the longer term, the growth in container traffic far outstrips the growth in Australia’s gross domestic product. Between January 1993 and June 2013 the GDP rose 75 per cent but container numbers shot through the roof with a 250 per cent rise.
From the point of view of the trucking industry, the waiting times and overall productivity at the ports ranks alongside the sheer numbers in importance. The number of lifts per hour increased from 39.1 to 42.4 in the three months up to June last year, indicating faster throughput. Other improvements for the trucking industry came with an overall increase in the number of off peak truck slots becoming available.
This kind of measure reduces congestion and aids transport planning but, unfortunately, has not been consistently carried out in all ports. Truck turnaround times improved in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne but averaged longer in Adelaide and Fremantle.
Anyone wanting to plough through the entire report is welcome to it and can find it on the BITRE website.