Motor Vehicle Transport

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Motor Vehicle Transport


a type of transport that conveys freight and passengers over railless routes. The main areas in which the expedient employment of motor vehicle transport has been constantly expanding are the distribution and delivery of freight to the arterial transportation systems, the short-distance conveyance of industrial and agricultural cargo, intracity transportation, and the transportation of freight for commerce and construction.

Table 1. Growth of world freight turnover of motor vehicle transport, not including the socialist countries (in billions of ton-kilometers)
 TolalIntercity onlyTotalIntercity onlyTotalIntercity only
North America............353264587455752596
Latin America............161350407856
Australia and Oceania.....201138244834

Over long distances motor vehicle transport moves perishables and goods that are especially valuable, that require prompt delivery, or that cannot be conveniently forwarded by other means of transportation. Nowadays not a single branch of the economy is capable of functioning without motor vehicle transport.

Motor vehicle transport began to develop in the 20th century in proportion to the growth of the manufacture of motor vehicles and the construction of roads. In 1900 there were 11,000 motor vehicles in the entire world; in 1914, 1,826,000; in 1921, 10,922,000; in 1940, 46,057,000; in 1950, 70,388,000; in 1960, 126,955,000; and in 1965, 177,902,000. In 1970 there are expected to be about 230 million vehicles. In 1968 the world produced over 15 million passenger cars. While in the 19th century railroad transport supplanted inland water and cart transport and became the most widespread type of conveyance, in the 20th century it in turn began to be forced out by the rapidly growing use of motor vehicle transport. During 1913–1965 the share of motor vehicle transport grew (in inland freight turnover) in the entire world from 0.2 percent to 17.1 percent; the railroad’s share decreased correspondingly from 72.9 percent to 50.7 percent.

In capitalist countries the development of motor vehicle transport takes place in competitive struggle with other types of transport, especially the railroad, and (in spite of the restrictive measures taken by some countries) proceeds at a faster pace than those of other types of transport (see Table 1).

The volume of freight transported by motor vehicles in 1964 in the entire world exceeded 53 billion tons and the freight turnover amounted to more than 1.37 trillion ton-kilometers. The economically developed capitalist countries had a 77.9 percent share of the freight turnover.

Except for the socialist countries, the world figure for passengers transported by bus was 82.5 billion in 1963 (45.1 billion in 1950), including 17.8 billion in intercity travel and 27.3 billion in city transportation. Europe and Asia each had a 35 percent share of the passengers transported by buses of the entire world. Passenger cars transported 282 billion people in 1964. North America accounted for 50 percent of this total and Europe accounted for 38 percent. In 1964 the world bus passenger turnover had reached 922 billion passenger-kilometers and the car passenger turnover 3,344 billion passenger-kilometers.

In the USSR motor vehicle transport began to develop later than in the most developed capitalist countries. Tsarist Russia had practically no motor vehicle transport. On the eve of World War I, Russia had 8,800 motor vehicles, primarily passenger cars belonging to industrialists, landowners, and government officials. Motor vehicle transport in the USSR began to develop rapidly after the creation of the native motor vehicle industry. Activities of the motor vehicle transport of the USSR are directed by annual and long-range state plans which seek to coordinate it with the other types of transport. Motor vehicle transport is being developed as a part of a unified transport network for the USSR (see Table 2).

Freight transportation by motor vehicle increased 14 times from 1940 to 1967, and passenger transportation during the same period increased 38 times in intercity travel

Table 2. Freight and passenger transportation, freight and passenger turnover of the motor vehicle transport of the USSR
 Units ot measurement191319281940195019601967
Freight transportation............million tons10.120.0858.61,859.68,492.711,947.0
Freight turnover.................billion ton-km0.10.28.920.198.5170.2
Passenger transportation (buses)...million people590.01,053.011,316.022,013.0
Passenger turnover (buses).......billion passenger-km3.45.261.0153.0

and 43 times in urban transportation by bus alone. In 1967 motor vehicle transport constituted 78.5 percent of the total transportation volume. Motor vehicle transport conveyed almost four times more freight than all other types of transport. However, since the average transportation distance of motor vehicle transport is much smaller than that of all other types of transport and was 14.2 km (1967) as against the average 830 km railroad transportation distance, 2,013 nautical miles (3,718 km) sea transportation distance, and 493 km river transportation distance, its freight turnover (in ton-kilometers) constituted only 5.3 percent of the total turnover of all types of transport of the USSR. Motor vehicle transport delivers freight rapidly. If one takes 100 percent as the speed of freight delivery by ordinary railroad trains, then it would be 180–200 percent for intercity motor vehicle transportation. For short distances (10–20 km) the speed of freight delivery by motor vehicle transport is many times greater than that of any other types of transport. In 1967 public motor vehicles (buses and taxicabs) conveyed 23 billion passengers in the USSR. Regular routes for intercity bus transportation reached the total length of more than 1.5 million km (1968). More than 5 million people work in the motor vehicle transport of the Soviet Union (1967). The sphere of the activity of motor vehicle transport has grown. Although labor and monetary expenditures are higher for motor vehicle transport than for other types of transport (on account of the relatively small load-carrying and load-holding capacities of motor vehicles conveying loads over comparatively short distances), motor vehicle transportation is economically advantageous, because the delivery of freight “door to door” without transshipping not only decreases the expenditures for loading and unloading work but also reduces the time the freight spends in transit.

The concentration of motor vehicles in large transport enterprises has not only made it possible to increase the share of motor vehicle transport in conveyance but also to perfect the transportation process constantly, to introduce progressive transportation methods (centralized according to the system of tractor plechi—crews assigned a section of the route of a tractor—the extensive use of containers, trays, and so on), to improve the transportation and dispatch service, to reduce inefficient transportation, and to organize the direct delivery of loads from the producer to the consumer.


Afanas’ev, L. L. Avtomobil’nye perevozki. Moscow, 1965.
Taranov, A. T. Perevozka passazhirov avtomobil’nym transportom. Moscow, 1963.
Karpunenkov, V. P. Vliianie kontsentratsii gruzovogo parka na razvitie avtomobil’nogo transporta. Moscow, 1963.
Bronshtein, L. A. Ekonomika i planirovanie avtomobil’nogo transporta. Moscow, 1968.
Velikanov, D. P. Effektivnost’ avtomobilia. Moscow, 1969.
Prokof’ev, I. I., and A. P. Anisimov. Ekonomika avtomobil’nogo transporta. Moscow, 1965.
Filippov, V. K. Razvitie avtomobil’ nogo transporta obshchego pol’zovaniia. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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