Marine safety : Coast Guard should address alternatives as it proceeds with VTS 2000
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Marine safety : Coast Guard should address alternatives as it proceeds with VTS 2000

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      The Coast Guard is considering constructing new or improved vessel traffic service (VTS) systems in as many as 17 ports. The proposed expansion, called VTS 2000, will cost an estimated $260 million to $310 million in federal funds to build and about $42 million in federal funds to operate each year if installed at all 17 locations. At present, the Coast Guard plans to pay these costs from its budget and not pass them on to local ports or to users, such as shipping companies. The General Accounting Office (GAO) was requested to provide information about funding the VTS 2000 program, including funding alternatives to build and operate the system. Briefly, GAO found the following: At its current stage of development, VTS 2000 presents uncertainties as to how many ports need such a system and how much it will cost. GAO did not find widespread support for VTS 2000 among the interviewed stakeholders at eight ports where site visits were conducted. Most opposed user fees or other funding approaches that would pass the cost of VTS 2000 from the federal government to those using the system. Support among those interviewed was greater for VTS systems that they perceived to be less expensive than VTS 2000 systems. Key issues could affect the establishment of privately funded or privately operated VTS systems. These include the private sector's ability to fund the initial start-up costs of such a system, the private sector's exposure to liability, and the Coast Guard's role in planning and overseeing a privately funded system. (43 p.)
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