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The National Academies

NCHRP 23-13(06) [Anticipated]

Assessing the Equity and Workforce Mobility Implications of the Expansion of E-commerce and Direct-to-Consumer Delivery Services
[ NCHRP 23-13 (Transportation Research Related to COVID-19) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Staff Responsibility: Trey Joseph Wadsworth
Fiscal Year: 2021

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

Brick and mortar retail businesses have been declining while on-line shopping and home delivery are increasing. This has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increase in demand for home delivery services and the need for new “essential workers” to meet the delivery demands. Workers supporting this service are typically low-income, young, have less job security, and are typically less able to own and maintain a private vehicle, necessary in the delivery business and increasing “gig” economy.
 
The objectives of this research are 1) identify how and to what extent shifts in the economy, including the rise of home delivery services during the pandemic, disproportionately impacts low-income workers, and 2) identify how changes in the economy may affect transportation needs and economic opportunities for low-income communities.
 
Identify how and to what extent shifts in the economy, including the rise of home delivery services during the pandemic, disproportionately impacts low-income workers and affects their travel options and costs, as a private vehicle is increasingly required for these jobs.
 
Auto-ownership is less frequent in low income households, with greater reliance on public transportation. Recently brick and mortar retail businesses have been declining while on-line shopping and home delivery are becoming more popular. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this trend, with a dramatic increase in demand for home delivery services and resulting new “essential workers”. Although workers supporting this service are typically low-income, young, and have less job security, these populations also are less able to own and maintain a private vehicle, which is becoming more necessary in the delivery business and increasing “gig” economy.
 
What data is available on home delivery workers? What additional data or data sources can provide supporting information?
What is the potential for this demand to remain long term?
What are the options to support these essential workers?
Is there a role for public transit in addressing this issue?
What partnerships may be necessary to fully understand the problem and jointly identify solutions?

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