Freight transportation networks must offer rapid, reliable, and efficient service to meet customer demands for today’s global marketplace. If a transportation supply chain becomes uncompetitive, it quickly loses market share and suffers immediate economic consequences. Global supply chains also have significant impacts on the environment and local communities. The increased recognition of the environmental and human impacts of supply chain activities, such as air emissions, noise, and congestion has led to public pressure for action, but these can often lead to fragmented, conflicting, and multi-layered regulatory structures. In recent public policy debates, much emphasis has been placed on proposals to shift freight from highways to rail (e.g., European policies to shift traffic from highways to rail and waterways, public investment in rail intermodal facilities, proposals to subsidize rail operations, truck size and weight restrictions, truck model age restrictions at ports, tax subsidies). This interest is based on goals of reducing emissions and highway congestion. However, prudent planning requires an understanding of the basics of mode choices, what could change those choices, and what will be the impacts. Modal shift initiatives also require a full understanding of the impacts prior to enacting the plans, especially the availability of modal capacity. Negative consequences are frequently misunderstood or overlooked. Without such understanding, public officials could make uninformed decisions that have decades-long impacts on transportation infrastructure and business supply chain procurement as well as the economic competitiveness of the United States.
The objective of this research is to develop a handbook for public practitioners that describes the factors shippers and carriers consider when choosing freight modes and provides an analytical methodology for public practitioners to quantify the probability and outcomes of policy-induced modal shifts.
Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.
(1). Conduct a kick-off conference call with the NCFRP to review and discuss the final research work plan.(2). Describe the factors that influence the current distribution of domestic freight modal share for stages of representative supply chains across industrial sectors.(3). Identify, analyze, and discuss the factors influencing shippers and carriers to shift or not shift modes (e.g., access to service, modal capacity, equipment, time sensitivity, commodity, security, cost, public policy, labor issues).(4). Describe recent significant examples of freight modal shifts and their causations.(5). Identify, analyze, and discuss the externalities as well as unintended consequences of policy-induced modal shifts.(6). Within 4 months, prepare an interim report that provides a summary of the results of Tasks 2 through 5, an outline of the analytical methodology to be developed in Task 7, and 5 to 7 proposed case studies of current or proposed policy-induced modal shifts.(7). Develop an analytical methodology to evaluate the effects and likelihood of specific policy-induced modal shifts and quantify the total public impacts (e.g., GHG emissions, congestion, economic impacts, employment, highway maintenance/lifecycle costs, logistics costs, societal costs). Apply the analytical methodology for the 3 selected case studies of representative current or proposed policy-induced modal shifts. Consider the timeframe for implementation of the modal shift and the interaction between factors ( 8). Using the analytical methodology developed in Task 7, conduct the panel-approved case studies of representative current or proposed policy-induced modal shifts.( 9). Prepare a handbook for public practitioners that describes the factors shippers and carriers consider when choosing freight modes and provides an analytical methodology for public practitioners to quantify the probability and outcomes of policy-induced modal shifts, and a summary of the results of the research.