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Soviet Union

Freight Transportation by Trucks

Without a developed network of highways and service facilities, Soviet authorities have essentially relegated trucking to local and short hauls, except in remote areas not having rail or ship transport. In 1986, in terms of freight turnover, trucks ranked fourth among all transportation systems, with a 6 percent share. Nevertheless, trucking had 81 percent of the tons originated by all freight transportation systems combined (see table 44, Appendix A). This anomaly indicated that trucks were primarily used on short hauls, averaging about eighteen kilometers. Long-distance or intercity hauling was mainly by railroads and inland waterways. The agricultural sector accounted for about 80 percent of freight originated on trucks. In 1986 freight transported by trucks amounted to almost 27 billion tons originated and 488.5 billion ton-kilometers (see Glossary). Common carrier trucks accounted for 6.7 billion tons originated and 141 billion ton-kilometers. Trucking's most important customers were agriculture, industry, construction, and commerce.

Trucking enterprises were not able to meet the strong demand for their services. Among the contributing factors to the industry's failure were inadequate roads, inefficient traffic organization--some 45 percent of vehicles traveled empty--and prolonged periods of unserviceability resulting from shortages of spare parts, drivers, tires, and fuel. Even in the largest metropolitan areas, refueling and repair facilities were scarce by Western standards. In rural areas, particularly in Siberia and the Far North, such facilities were often nonexistent. Repair and maintenance of vehicles belonging to transportation enterprises (see Glossary) and collective farms (see Glossary) were performed at central facilities, which sometimes belonged to manufacturing plants. Repair was hampered by a chronic shortage of spare parts. Given the extent of poor roads, even the absence of roads, many cargo vehicles were of the rugged, cross-country type, with allwheel traction similar to those used by the armed forces as tactical vehicles. Many vehicles were specially designed for cold weather operations.

Data as of May 1989