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Transportation Modes: Transport System

Transport modes can be classified in terms of their carry purposes. In other words, transport modes are essential options for carrying passengers or freight, or a combination of both. They fall into three major transportation types, such as a land mode (that has two subcategories: road and rail), air (aviation), and water (maritime shipping). Obviously, each mode can be characterized by several commercial, operational, and technical features. An evaluation of transportation modes highlights significant commercial and operational downsides and properties, but the contemporary demand is affected by modified transportation systems requiring flexibility to a great extent.

Four Major Transportation Modes

  • Road transportation;
  • Rail transportation and pipelines;
  • Maritime transportation;
  • Air transportation.

Road Transportation

When it comes to primary demerits of road transportation, its motorized and non-motorized options can be detected, as it provides users with route maneuverability taking place across short-distance paths. Road transportation is a case of short-distance mobility, where a user chooses their road vehicle operating on its convenience, comfort, and availability. Road transportation mode is the best option for short distances routes providing consumers with a high rate of flexibility and convenience.

Advantages of the Road Transportation System

  • This type of transportation requires little physical constraints among consumers;
  • Road transportation mode supports non-motorized types of transportation (walking, cycling) via devising electro-scooters or bicycles as a source of short-distance mobility;
  • The overall cost of vehicles is low in comparison with other modes, which enables consumers to obtain vehicles at a relatively low price to get access. Road transportation is highly competitive but with a low rate of profitability.
  • Low capital costs are correlated to updated new technologies, and innovations hovering around the transportation industry might modify and renew a fleet on a regular basis;
  • Approximately all road means of transport display a high relative speed compared to public transit and non-motorized modes. The significant constraint is speed limits imposed by the governmental policy;
  • This kind of transportation is aligned with the flexibility of route directions, as road networks have been developing for centuries;
  • Road transportation mode requires less capital investment compared to other modes, as the cost of operating, road maintenance, and contracting are cheaper than other transportation models;
  • Road vehicles are characterized as unique inventions providing house-to-house services;
  • In short distances the lead time of road transportation mode is faster than the lead time of maritime and rail modes, but it is slower than the lead time of air transportation mode.

Disadvantages of the Road Transportation System

  • Road congestions have become a severe issue in urban places;
  • Road vehicles are the primary sources of CO2 emissions entailing environmental pollution;
  • Sometimes, road costs in terms of freight transportation are not covered because of empty backhauls;
  • There are several physiographical constraints (rugged terrain, rivers) requiring substantial additional coasts.

Rail Transportation and Pipelines

Rail transportation mode is the best option for freight carrying. For this very reason, heavy industries are closely connected with rail and pipeline transportation. Rail transportation is a subcategory of land mode embracing the network of diverse directions and routes. Rodrigue ( 2020) claims that rail transportation is a passenger service that is being “expanded by setting high-speed rail (HSR) services between high-density city-pairs” (para. 2). This mode includes urban transits and subway systems that main advantages are mobility and flexibility in large metropolitan districts.

Merits of Rail Transportation

  • Rail transportation mode is the most dependable as it can be hardly affected by weather conditions;
  • This mode is better organized as it has fixed schedules of routes; this passenger service is well-performed and certain compared to other ways;
  • In long distances, its speed is faster than other modes manifest; this is why it is the best solution for long-distances trips;
  • Rail transportation is used predominantly for freight carrying, as it is the most economical, best suited, and quicker way for freight transportation;
  • As to costs required, it is a cheaper way of transport; few staff members have to serve this transport, this is why rail transportation mode is also economical in terms of labor costs.

Demerits of Rail Transportation

  • It needs significant capital investments, as the costs of operating, road maintenance are incredibly high compared to other modes;
  • The great disadvantage of a rail mode is the cost and time of terminal operations;
  • Rail transportation is a case of monopoly development, as it gives few chances for competitors to develop their business. This is why consumers have a fixed paycheque that cannot be argued;
  • There are a lot of physiographical constraints predisposing road and route buildings;
  • It has few facilities in rural and urban districts because of high capital requirements and traffic.

Maritime Transportation

Maritime transportation mode is an effective way to deliver cargo over long distances. Naval transportation has subsided its importance in moving passengers, but it is essential for carrying enormous cargo and ferry services. It can be used “as a touristic option between a network of ports of call” (Rodrigue, 2020, para. 4). Moreover, maritime transportation is closely connected with heavy industries or facilities that are adjacent to port sites.

Upsides of Maritime Transportation Mode

  • Cost maintenance of maritime transportation mode is less than costs required on maintenance of other modes;
  • It is the best option for bulky transport of cargo over long distances;
  • Taking into account natural constraints, such as flooding or extensive rains, the naval mode can provide users with more comfortable service compared to land mode;
  • It is the fundamental element of foreign trade through water borders.

Downsides of Maritime Transportation

  • It is the slowest mean of transport; lead time is slower in comparison with other means of transport;
  • There is a constant risk of being caught in natural disasters while moving on water vehicles.

Air Transportation

Air transportation mode is a fixed scheduled service catering to consumers’ needs in terms of the fastest means of transport. There is competition among rival air carriers offering their own developed networks. It provides consumers with a great variety of services, for example: a user can book their flight beforehand and choose their flight segment by themselves. Air transportation mode includes charter air services offered under specific conditions, such as servicing the mobility of a particular person or an organization; or seasonal flights. Air transportation mode is supposed to be a point-to-point service.

Advantages of Air Transportation

  • High lead speed is the primary benefit of this mode; passengers and goods can be delivered from one point to another one;
  • There is no demand to spend money on road and route maintenance, as only airports have to be constructed;
  • In this mode, there are no physiographical constraints, such as rivers, rugged lands, mountains;
  • Air transportation is considered to be the safest solution during natural disasters, such as earthquakes and floods.

Disadvantages of Air Transportation

  • It is a costly service because operational costs are extremely high. People from the middle class and the poorest social segment cannot afford it;
  • There are a lot of crash accidents communicated to the public; all people who crashed in air accidents suffered from painful deaths;
  • This mode requires enormous investments, as all construction costs on aerodromes and costs on mechanism control are high.


Rodrigue, J. P. (2020). The Geography of transport system. Transportation modes, modal competition and modal shift. Web.

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StudyKraken. "Transportation Modes: Transport System." February 7, 2023.


StudyKraken. 2023. "Transportation Modes: Transport System." February 7, 2023.


StudyKraken. (2023) 'Transportation Modes: Transport System'. 7 February.

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