Тлумачний словник

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The development of transport facilities was very important in the growth of the United States. The first travel routes were natural waterways. No surfaced roads existed until the 1790s, when the first turnpikes were built. Besides the overland roads, many canals were constructed between the late 18th century and 1850 to link navigable rivers and lakes in the eastern United States and in the Great Lakes region. Steam railways began to appear in the East in the 1820s. The first transcontinental railway was constructed between 1862 and 1869 by the Union Pacific and Central Pacific companies, both of which received large subsidies from the federal government. Transcontinental railways were the chief means of transport used by European settlers who populated the West in the latter part of the 19th century. The railways continued to expand until 1917, when their length reached a peak of about 407,000 km. Since then motor transport became a serious competitor to the railway both for passengers and freight.

Air transport began to compete with other modes of transport after World War I. Passenger service began to gain importance in 1920s, but not until the beginning of commercial jet craft after World War II did air transport become a leading mode of travel.

During the early 1990s railways annually handled about 37,5 per cent of the total freight traffic; trucks carried 26 per cent of the freight, and oil pipelines conveyed 20 per cent. Approximately 16 per cent was shipped on inland waterways. Although the freight handled by airlines amounted to only 0,4 per cent of the total, much of the cargo consisted of high-priority or high-value items.

Private cars carry about 81 per cent of passengers. Airlines are the second leading mover of people, carrying more than 17 per cent of passengers. Buses are responsible for 1,1 per cent, and railways carry 0,6 per cent of passengers.

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