The National Academies

NCFRP 36(05) [Completed]

Synthesis of Freight Research in Urban Transportation Planning

  Project Data
Funds: $50,000
Research Agency: University of Southern California
Principal Investigator: Genevieve Giuliano
Effective Date: 8/3/2011
Completion Date: 10/31/2012
Comments: Completed--to be published as NCFRP Report 23

This project synthesizes information about policies and practices for managing freight activity in metropolitan areas and is based on a comprehensive review of international literature.  The primary focus is on “last-mile/first-mile” strategies, but the report also focuses on strategies affecting environmental issues and trading hubs or nodes. The research looked beyond the United States—mostly, but not exclusively, in Europe and the European BESTUFS (Best Urban Freight Solutions) program—for potentially relevant policies and practices that could be used in the United States.  The synthesis will be of interest to transportation planners and strategists, particularly those representing the larger urban areas. 

Commercial transport for the delivery of goods and services is crucial to the modern urban economy, which relies on frequent deliveries and collections (groceries, parcels, trash), express and urgent deliveries (hospitals, businesses), and a fast-growing home delivery market.  Trucks and vans provide the “last mile/first-mile” transport, as well as most medium haul freight transport.  In metro areas that serve as trade hubs, trucks are a major part of wholesaling, distribution, logistics, and intermodal operations.  Truck traffic also generates significant impacts including congestion, emissions, noise, and traffic incidents.  Metro areas throughout the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world are seeking ways to better manage truck traffic.  Of particular interest is the BESTUFS program that the European Union has funded to bring together experts, projects, research results, and stakeholders to analyze success factors for urban logistics in European cities. 

The objective of the research was to conduct a synthesis of recent urban freight studies in the United States, the European Union, and elsewhere to identify relevant strategies for managing urban freight transport.  The results provide useful guidance and information to transportation planners and strategists interested in urban freight issues.  The report provides guidance on the types of research and studies that could be undertaken to contribute further to solutions of urban freight transport in terms of economic, environmental, and social/safety issues.

Under NCFRP Project 36(05), “Synthesis of Freight Research on Urban Transportation Planning,” METRANS Transportation Center, University of Southern California examined strategies in three general categories:  (1) last mile/first mile, (2) environmental, and (3) trade node.  Last mile/first mile strategies focus on reducing congestion on city streets related to local deliveries and pickups.  Environmental strategies focus on reducing emissions and noise from trucks and vans.  Trade node strategies deal with the particular problems of metropolitan areas serving as hubs for national and international trade.  The report concludes with general observations from the literature review and an assessment of the most promising strategies that could be used to better manage urban freight in the US.



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