As the demand for freight movements outstrips the capacity of the nation’s highway, rail, waterway, air, and port systems, the effects are felt as congestion, longer and less reliable transit times, upward pressure on freight prices, and higher inventory levels. These impacts boost the cost of doing business and the cost of living resulting in a less productive and competitive economy. The increased demand for freight movement will create social costs and benefits that should be understood.
A comprehensive, objective, and consistent set of measures of performance of the U.S. freight transportation system is important for assessing the condition of that system, identifying its problems, and setting priorities on actions to resolve those problems. Freight system performance measures are important to support decisions about investments, operations, and policies for both the public and private sectors, and for the system as a whole and its critical components--corridors, links, and nodes (terminals). Performance measures for the freight system that are applicable and comparable at various geographic levels will also help educate planners, decisionmakers, and the public about the importance of freight transportation to our economy and quality of life.
The objective of this project is to identify measures to gauge the performance of the freight transportation system. The measures should support investment, operations, and policy decisions by a range of stakeholders, both public and private, and reflect local, regional, national, and global perspectives. Areas of emphasis should include, but not be limited to, efficiency, effectiveness, capacity, safety, security, infrastructure condition, congestion, energy, and environment.