Over the past ten years, the tonnage of containerized cargo handled at Maritime Transportation System (MTS) ports has grown by 29%. In 2018, about 14.6 million metric tonnes of containerized cargo was handled at MTS ports. Currently, Montreal and Cleveland have regularly-scheduled container shipping services, and Montreal is the MTS’ main container terminal, handling 99% of the system’s containerized cargo.
This metric provides insight on growth in containerized cargo handled in the MTS. The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers’ Maritime Transportation System Strategy noted that governments in the region should evaluate ways to improve opportunities for containerized cargo trade. This desire to increase container trade is driven by the economic opportunity associated with containerized shipping, including the logistics activities that often grow around ports handling containers. However, the seasonal closures of the Seaway mean that development of container services for Great Lakes ports is much more difficult, because waterborne container service is unavailable for three months of the year due to winter closing of the Seaway, and firms shipping or receiving goods via container usually desire year-round port accessibility. These challenges mean that establishing container service within in the Great Lakes has been difficult and only Cleveland has regularly-scheduled container service upstream of the Seaway.