Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Primer for Improved Urban Freight Mobility and Delivery
Operations, Logistics, and Technology Strategies

1. Introduction


According to the U.S. Census, more than 80 percent of people in America live in metropolitan areas. Urban populations are likely to grow by 20 percent or more over the next 20 years as the country's overall population increases and the movement of people into urbanized areas continues. As urban populations increase and demand for goods rises, moving freight safely, efficiently, and reliably becomes increasingly challenging. To meet this challenge, public- and private-sector freight practitioners are finding ways to work together to plan for and implement solutions that improve the cost-effectiveness of freight movement in urban areas while balancing the needs of other road users, local businesses, and residents.

This primer is designed to serve as a resource for freight stakeholders seeking to improve goods movement in their regions. For the purposes of this document, urban freight management refers to planning, programming, and other strategies to improve freight mobility in urban areas or to minimize its impacts on others. Operations, logistics, and technology (OLT) strategies represent a set of practices that can be applied to improve the movement of goods and the quality of life of urban residents.

This primer can help freight stakeholders understand potential applications of OLT strategies to improve urban freight management and mobility through the sharing of noteworthy practices that have been implemented successfully. It may also assist freight stakeholders in identifying freight projects that are eligible for funding through Federal freight programs such as the National Highway Freight Program (NHFP) and the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program, currently being administered as the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants.

Operations, logistics, and technology strategies are defined here as follows:

  • Operations strategies focus on loading zones, parking, truck routing, and other elements of traffic control and lane management.
  • Logistics strategies focus on individual supply chains to consider adjustments such as off-peak delivery hours, freight consolidation, or mode shifts.
  • Technology strategies incorporate intelligent transportation systems (ITS), alternative fuels, and other technological advancements with the potential to improve urban freight movements.

The target audience for this primer are the freight transportation stakeholders who can influence and enact change to improve urban freight mobility in both the public and private sectors. These stakeholders include, but are not limited to, those listed in Table 1.

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