The National Academies

NCFRP 15 [Final]

Understanding Urban Goods Movements

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Research Agency: Wilbur Smith
Principal Investigator: Suzanne Rhodes
Effective Date: 7/1/2009
Completion Date: 4/15/2011
Comments: Published as NCFRP Report 14

The efficient flow of goods is essential for the economic well-being of the vast majority of Americans who live in urbanized areas. The performance of the freight flow system also has direct implications for the productivity of the nation, the costs of goods and services, and the global competiveness of industries. Demand for freight transportation has been rising steadily and shows no sign of abating for the foreseeable future. At the same time, freight system capacity has increased only modestly.    
Land use and zoning decisions at the local level, by determining the location of the origin or destination of goods, as well as restrictions on time and routes followed, often occur without a full understanding or consideration of urban goods movement by commercial motor vehicles. As a consequence, the logistical needs of businesses and consumers may be degraded, opportunities for economic development may be missed, and freight movements may unnecessarily detract from the quality of life through congestion or emissions.
While many aspects of urban goods movement have been thoroughly documented, no single report provides a comprehensive, concise guide for public decisionmakers to accommodate and expedite urban goods movement while minimizing the environmental impact and community consequences of goods movement.
The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook that will improve public decisions affecting urban commercial motor vehicle movements for goods delivery. The guidebook will include a detailed background discussion of urban goods movement and teaching case studies.   The guidebook and case studies will help decisionmakers understand the potential impacts of their decisions on urban goods movements among the following categories: transportation infrastructure and operations; land use and site design; and laws, regulations, and ordinances applicable to urban areas. The research should recognize the dynamic nature of supply chains and focus on the urban pickup and delivery system for end-user consumer goods including, for example, food, fuel, retail goods, repair services, mail and package delivery, and waste collection.
Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCFRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
(1). Review the literature on urban goods movement by trucks (including relevant TRB reports) and other appropriate material from public and private sources including the contractor’s internal knowledge base. Particular emphasis should be given to describing the impacts on the efficient movement of urban goods of local zoning regulations regarding off-street truck parking and loading, street standards and roadway design, and ordinances relating to parking permitting and enforcement. (2). Describe the fundamentals of urban goods movements from the private-sector perspective. The overview should cover such topics as current business practices, location and operational decisions, and performance objectives. It should focus on the “last mile” of the supply chain (i.e., distribution warehouse to final delivery), but also include a concise description of other urban freight systems such as intermodal gateways; international trade; and local production freight-dependent industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, and natural resources. (3).Describe public-sector entities that are involved in land use, economic development, and transportation; their current practices and decision-making criteria; and their sphere of responsibility over urban freight systems. Identify the important questions that public-sector decisionmakers such as MPO/RTPOs, cities, counties, and states would want answered in a guidebook. Within 2 months of contract initiation, submit a working paper providing the results of Tasks 1 through 3 and hold a conference call with the panel to discuss the results and plans for future tasks. (4). Develop detailed descriptions of several urban supply chains that have significant impacts on the economy and make up a large share of total truck trips and miles traveled. Conduct interviews and survey shippers, carriers, and goods receivers on such topics as: (1) typical flow maps for urban delivery systems; (2) case studies illustrating the systems; and (3) operational characteristics such as routes and vehicle utilization, vehicle type, access needs, primary freight, volume, frequency, and modal options. Compare common issues and unique characteristics of urban supply chains.  Identify urban freight delivery system performance goals as defined by shippers, receivers, and carriers. (5). Recommend a data collection and analysis protocol that enables the public sector to measure performance and support public decisionmaking in urban freight systems. The data collection method should include the possible use of, and barriers to, onboard tracking (e.g., GPS) and other information technologies. Performance analyses should include: (1) multi-stop origin-destination patterns; (2) speed; (3) idling and emissions; (4) reliability and routing; (5) commodity flows within urban freight systems; (6) safety; and (7) any correlations between land use type, population and job growth, and delivery system practices that may enable predictive capability and/or forecasting of urban goods delivery. (6). Six months after contract initiation, submit an interim report providing the results of Tasks 1 through 5 for panel review and approval. (7). Describe the impacts on urban delivery systems for each supply chain described in Task 4 from the following categories: (1) transportation infrastructure and operations; (2) land use and site design; and (3) laws, regulations, and ordinances applicable in urban areas. The information should be displayed in graphic format for each supply chain and do the following: (1) describe the impacts of congestion for different industry sectors, by company size and customer base; (2) identify constraints and opportunities; (3) identify patterns and commonalities of issues between supply chains; and (4) analyze unintended consequences, implications, future trends, and successful interventions and actions or interactions between the three categories above. (8). Prepare several teaching case studies that illustrate the positive or negative impact of public-sector decisions on supply chains and demonstrate the issues covered in Tasks 3, 4, and 7. The studies should be geographically diverse and provide examples for both Central Business Districts and greater urban areas. (9). Within 12 months of contract initiation, prepare an initial draft of the guidebook. The draft guidebook will include an executive summary, an appendix with reference materials (possibly including self-assessment tools and checklists), and teaching case studies with supporting materials. (10). Consult with shippers, receivers, carriers, and public decisionmakers to validate the guidebook findings and prioritize recommendations, both short and long term, to improve urban goods movement. The approach may include: (1) focus groups that include a balance of public- and private-sector representatives and (2) industry review with companies and trade associations such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Trucking Associations, Chambers of Commerce, and public-sector organizations. (11). Within 15 months of contract initiation, incorporate panel and focus group findings and submit a draft final report, documenting the entire research effort, along with the revised stand-alone guidebook. A separate electronic presentation also will be prepared that will include the main points of the guidebook and materials to support the teaching case studies. All materials, including the results of the research, should be available electronically. (12). Within 18 months of contract initiation, submit a final report, guidebook, and materials to support the teaching case studies.
Status: Published as NCFRP Report 14, Guidebook for Understanding Urban Goods Movement.  The report is also available electronically at https://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/166828.aspx

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