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Economics of shipping

2006-09-07 15:51:24.328963+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

Wow. You can buy an old schoolbus in the United States, ship it to the Congo, and sell it for $2k and make a profit. Because of my years hanging out around whitewater folks and with hippies, I know you can buy old schoolbuses fairly cheap, but I didn't know that shipping that direction was that inexpensive.

[ related topics: Economics Public Transportation ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-09-07 19:10:46.820317+00 by: aiworks

I didn't find anything in the article... anyone know what it costs to ship a bus? If there's margin in $2000 it must be cheap.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-09-07 19:50:39.748368+00 by: Dan Lyke

The number I've always heard quoted is that you can get a shipping container from anywhere to anywhere for $5k. Since that includes things like rail and truck to get it into the middle of the U.S., I've assumed that the boat charges were a thousand or two, but if there's a margin in $2k after you've paid the school district a few hundred bucks, then running freighters must involve extremely small margins.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-09-07 20:22:56.342885+00 by: Larry Burton

How many buses can you put in a container?

#Comment Re: made: 2006-09-07 20:47:23.108321+00 by: Dan Lyke

From National Transportation Library - Large School Bus Design Vehicle Dimensions:

...the overall length of school buses shall not exceed 40' [12.1 m] and the overall width shall not exceed 102" [8.5', 2.6 m].

And, presumably, less than 13 feet high. A standard 40 foot shipping container (other source with slightly different dimensions) appears to be roughly 8'x8' exterior, so probably a little bit over one schoolbus to a container.

One of the guys I ride with worked in shipping, next time I see him I'll ask. Cockeyed's How Much Is Inside a Shipping Container pointed to the Maersk Line rates page which doesn't give you current info without signing up, but their historical data for two years ago indicates U.S. to Congo for roughly $6k. Clearly I'd have to learn about specific ports and get a little more knowledgeable to figure out how this is a reasonable proposition.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-09-07 20:52:24.581142+00 by: ebradway

You might get only one bus in the container but what would you put in the bus?

#Comment Re: made: 2006-09-07 20:53:37.02566+00 by: aiworks

Thanks Dan: I'd be really curious to know what it really costs. $6k for a school bus size cargo container is what I remember the last time I checked on this.

I'm wondering if these are modified amphibious school buses.