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Talking Freight

Urban Goods Movement and Planning -

November 19, 2003 Talking Freight Transcript

Presentation of Susie Lahsene, Port of Portland:

Thank you, Jennifer. Welcome, everybody, as Jennifer mentioned at the start of this presentation, this will be a two-part presentation. I will focus on trends, challenges and approaches specifically used in the Portland metropolitan area and Arun Chatterjee will be focusing on techniques and tools for urban freight planning. Examination of trends that influence urban freight planning, excuse me, influence urban freight patterns provide a good foundation for developing approaches to urban freight planning. Trying to understand how and why freight patterns occur and the implications of those patterns for industry provides a good foundation not only for man acknowledging or addressing some of those patterns but also supporting the economic base of the urban region. Let me talk briefly about some of the patterns that we see as significant in affecting urban freight movement. First, talking about globalization, the fact that we now have markets all over the world with raw materials and suppliers moving long distance, or parts of long distance increases the reliance on transportation and increases the role of urban center for being able to manage that activity in a comprehensive and coherent manner federal transportation deregulation has also influenced the use of transportation for moving products, and, in fact, now with deregulation, there is more competition among modes and within modes providing cost-effective way of moving longer distances with more precision. The result of this is a trade of an increasing share of this nation's dome particular gross product. As you can see in the graph before you in the 1970s, trade represented less than 10% of the overall gap whereas today it is closer to 30% with projection of it continuing to go up. The overall impact of this is we are seeing volume increases in freight with the U.S. with different parts of the country feeling more than other--pressure than others for accommodating freight through the system. Let me now shift to another factor that is influencing urban freight movement, and that's business practices. When you look at the history of industrial competitiveness in the 1800s there was a strong emphasis by firms on producing a product, basically getting the product out to the consumers. By the 1900s the emphasis was then transitioned to sales, in fact, making sure that businesses could keep up with demand and that the products that they were producing were effective and reached the market. But by the late 1900s and by early 2,000 sophistication of product offering has changed particularly with increased globalization the whole focus now is to make sure you have the right product at the right point in the right time at the right quantity. So to a large extent, the concept of distribution and logistics have become the new business model for industry today, and just a point of clarification, distribution and logistics really references the use of the transportation system information technology and the distribution facilities, the land use portion, to assemble and move raw materials and products to market. Is--why is this happening? Well largely because there is increased as a result of--pressure as a result of globalization. There are more industries competing globally, more effectively. . We also have seen an increase in offshore production, which means that moving products from certain labor markets into the consuming markets has become very critical and doing that cost-effectively and efficiently has become a key focus. Part of the reason for that key focus for industry is that the cost savings that industries have realized in the past through their own internal efficiencies, making systems standardized and trying to eke out all the efficiencies they have internal has now transitioned to looking at variable costs or the costs of transportation and logistics, things that in the past, industry had not considered as something that they had some control over. Let me give you an example, a couple of examples in the local region that demonstrate the interrelationship, not only of all modes and the reliance of a particular industry on multiple modes, but also the role of the transportation system relative to land use and the role of distribution facilities. I will use Columbia Sportswear as a first example but I will walk through two others, one will be a manufacturing company and another will be a local retail grocery company. In the case of Columbia Sportswear you have basically an inbound movement. . They create sportswear , footwear and accessories. They arrive by ship through terminals in the Portland region and some also come via Seattle and Tacoma. They also rely on the air shipments from the local airports in this region in some cases they also rely on truck to truck from existing terminals to the north. They then move their to a value added location which is the only distribution center that they currently have in operation today for the entire u.s. at that place, all of the value-added activities occur, including adding repackaging, adding skus for orders. They then move to another location, which is again movement by truck and freight forwarders move that shipment to the airport or to the lpl carriers take the shipment by truck to their point of departure and then the outbound movement is primarily by air or by truck. Now, let me quickly talk about freight liner, which is a manufacturing company that manufactures trucks, basically, and they have an inbound movement that arrived also from international markets, via marine terminals and also by truck from Canada and Mexico. Their manufacturing occurs in a plant here in the Portland region, in a different location, their distribution then occurs at a different location in the Portland region, and then ultimately some of their products are exported by ship to Australia and New Zealand. Now, let me transition quickly and walk you through quickly an example of a local company that is a retail grocery store, fred myers also known as kroger's in other parts of the country. They have movement of some of their products arriving through marine and also some of their products arriving by truck. That activity, their products then are put through a reload center where they are repackaged in a different location but near the port terminal. It then goes to a distribution center that serves a broader regional market than just the Portland region, also at a completely different location, all by truck. Then their products move to retail and local consumption and ultimately to the consumer. I think the point of looking at all of those different companies is just trying to demonstrate the importance of the transportation system and the land use relationship in order for an industry to remain cost competitive within the market today. I would like to transition now and talk briefly about looking at the urban centers and some of the challenges faced there specifically. Layering on top some of these broader macro trends, if you will, in terms of globalization and industry business practices. If you look at the metropolitan centers where the largest pressures are occurring for urban goods movement, not only is--are urban centers dependent on, you know, provide the opportunity for communication, but also for trade-related activities to all converge and then be redistributed to the rest of the country. When you look--when you layer on top of that location of the manufacturing centers in the us, along with the wholesale distribution centers, the concentrations of that activity, and the international freight gateways, you get a real quick picture of some the--of the challenges that these particular centers are facing in terms of trying to accommodate industries needs for moving products cost- effectively to their ultimate markets or receiving raw materials cost-effectively for added value, or actual production or manufacturing. And, in fact, it's no surprise then that we are seeing freight transportation demand growing in most urban areas and when you look at the commodity mix, typically, some of the heavier commodities make up large share of the urban freight profile, in terms of goods movement, but the service sector is also highly dependent on efficient movement by truck, in particular of their products and have contributed significantly to the growth in freight. What we do know in the urban area is that freight movement is largely dependent on trucks, to a large extent, because of the examples that I showed that for each movement, whether it is from an import location, to a distribution center or to a reload center, the truck provides the connection or the linkage between all of those activities. But another factor we need to think about when we are planning for freight movement is the pass through volumes, and for those urban areas that are in key crossroads for distribution or where there--they are reliant on one particular mode, often times there will be a significant volume of pass through tonnage that impacts the freight. Some of the challenges that we have to meet in the urban area is to access the needs for container growth. There has been annex in container growth just in sheer volumes we are experiencing from international points and trying to maintain good access to these areas so the products can move efficiently off of the docks into the distribution centers or reload facilities has become a challenge for many areas because the roads that serve these particular terminals often are local or city streets and they don't necessarily receive the attention in terms of movement that some of the more prominent streets may by the state. In addition, there are--there is the challenge of maintaining access to existing industrial land that has been located or occurs around existing freight corridors and insuring that that access is maintained becomes a priority if you want to continue to serve these industrial areas. And then maintaining access to warehouse and distribution centers that may be cropping up around your urban environment and making sure that you can effectively access these areas and link them back to either the terminals or your airport or other distribution centers, and then we are all facing the challenge of congestion and to a large extent the urban area poses the biggest problem for making improvements, either to accommodate freight or commuter, for that matter. Not only the projects take a long time, they are often challenged and trying to make improvements for truck movement in particular is not always that popular. Some of the implications that I want to highlight is that industry, as the point I was making earlier, is so reliant today on transportation efficiency and effectiveness, that if they cannot cost-effectively serve an area, go look elsewhere. And that is something that I think is a trend that we are going to continue to see in the us, the implication of that, of course, is that potentially the cost of transportation will continue to increase and have an impact on the cost of goods. Some of the urban freight planning tools that I just want to highlight that have been useful in thinking about how to make some sense out of urban freight growth and just managing urban freight, is modeling, in particular, modeling truck activity, using the local and regional transportation plans to identify key corridors for freight and making sure that you provide incentive to make movement to those corridors efficient. Investment strategies that are perhaps linked back to an economic development strategy so that as you are trying to attract industry or serve the industry existing that you think about what their transportation and freight mobility needs are. Always understanding the underlying economic base of your urban area becomes fundamental. That gives you a good sense of the kind of freight that you need to focus on, is it heavy long-haul truck, is it more distribution? Is it more service sector? That becomes a fundamental element in trying to understand what you need to be doing in the urban area. The idea of forecasting, projecting ahead the industries that are going to be in your urban area and that--what that means in terms of freight volume in the future, certainly comprehensive planning, looking at the land use side of the equation, both in terms of planning for facilities that generate freight and need to linked close to terminals, and also land use location analysis, are there new locations that ought to be pro--protected in terms of freight capacity or transportation capacity. Then there is the land use policy assessment design standard. That's an area where I don't think enough attention has been paid to the particular area, and it seems as though where we have opportunities to improve freight, not only freight mobility but also the acceptance, if you will, of some freight corridors if we pay attention to design. And then, of course, access management policies. Let me briefly talk about a couple of things that we have done in the Portland area. We have really focused in four broad areas. I will just walk you through them briefly. The first is the planning, policy and research area and to a large extent, what we have tried to do there link up the transportation and land use plan so that the key freight corridors based on existing industry today reflects what the industry's needs are, and we have tried to protect industrial lands and Missouri intermodal facilities from key encroachment. We want to keep that particular corridor in line for the projected freight volume. We have also had a policy emphasis on maintaining access to intermodal facilities and what we determined to be industrial sank you and then--sanctuaries and then continued on needs, what are the freight bottlenecks, what are the continued implications of them. What is the supply chain geography of industrial--individual industries that are located in the metropolitan area. In other words, what are the elements of the supply chain that those industries--rely on that we ought to be paying attention to and then just trying to get a better understanding of the economic relationship to freight investment. The second area is a freight advisory committee, and we have tried to link up--we have both a regional, a state and a city of Portland freight advisory committee, and we have linked them up by membership and used them to help us, help guide us in investment decisions, in planning decisions and identification of key corridors. The third area is the forecasting and analysis area. This region has been doing just sort of a refinement of the national commodity flow forecast, which mixed together, about six different data bases to try to get a regional look at what kinds of commodities are moving through this region and what the future of those s is expected, in other words, what kind of growth are we expecting in those commodity areas. That begins to provide the foundation for our truck model, which is a model that we have developed to reflect truck movement patterns in the six-county region, and then we have also used that to compare with forecasts--forecasted commuter program and exam where there will be freight bottlenecks in the future. The last area of approach is the last approach that I want to talk about is just an investment strategy, and that becomes really important. It really isn't useful to identify the problems and issues without having an approach to solving them, and part of the approach is to make certain strategic capacity increases in the system. Now at this point I would like to turn it over to Arun Chatterjee to talk more specifically about urban freight planning techniques and tools. Arun?

Jennifer Seplow:

Okay, thanks, Susie.

Okay. If I could just jump in real quickly. . I want to thank Susie first. We have some questions posted and a great discussion going on the side as well. After arum's presentation, we will address some of the questions and I will save the discussion and e-mail that to everybody as--well so you can a record of that. Arun, I will turn the presenter roll over to you.

Presentation of Arun Chatterjee, University of Tennessee:

Okay. Well, I am very happy to share some of my experience and thoughts with you and thank you for joining. Susie's presentation covered some very important aspects, broad and business-oriented aspects of urban freight movement and planning, but simultaneously with the analysis and planning as Susie described, the local planners and traffic engineers must deal within infrastructure related problems and opportunities involving truck traffic. In my presentation I will identify some of the common problems and opportunities. What I will cover is well within the scope of traditional MPO planning and traffic engineering. I will discuss mostly vehicle-based analysis, focusing on internal movements of trucks and will make a few comments about through movements. I will examine some of the traditional tools used for planning and forecasting that are used today, and I will try to give some examples and point out some of the difficulties that freight planners may encounter. Internal freight movement, as Susie point pointed out occurs almost always by truck. The majority of this is by single-unit trucks and vans; however, large combination trucks also move freight internally between terminals and hubs located inside an area. It should be recognized that most of the internal truck movements are mostly for pick up and delivery of freight. But there is a hierarchy of operation, and that should be recognized -- different hierarchies using different sizes of trucks. I will give you some examples. For example, pickup and delivery between major centers inside an urban area such as an airport, and the hub center of FedEx or UPS will probably use large combination trucks; pickup and delivery of containers from one rail terminal to another, like what happens quite a bit in the Chicago area, of course, involves large trucks. Pickup and delivery between warehouses and offices and stores may use medium sized trucks and vans whereas pickup and delivery between a terminal and offices and home in most cases will use small trucks and vans. So we must not lose sight that a variety of truck sizes are involved with internal movements. One more comment that I would like to make about a specific type of vehicle called service vehicles, and freight planners should be aware of this. Service vehicles are automobiles or small vans used by plumbers, electricians, office equipment, repair persons and others providing similar services. These vehicles may have, and usually have, commercial license tags; but they do not carry heavy freight items. The question that this involves is should these vehicles be allowed to use loading zones or should loading zones be restricted to true trucks? Unless we clearly define the policy related to eligibility, enforcement issues become complicated. For internal movements planners really need not analyze freight movement in terms of commodity flows. What Susie said is very important for external-internal flows moving in and out of an urban area. But for internal movements one could avoid looking into commodity flow. It gets very complicated. But there should be an awareness that there is a very wide variety of freight that moves inside the trucks, and it varies from construction materials to smaller packages, even mail delivered by the postal service.

Now I am going to look into the long-range planning process of MPOs. All MPOs, of course, are engaged in the long-range planning process. The time horizon is usually 20 years and forecasting of future scenarios is a very important part of this. And when it comes to forecasting, there are two categories of models that the MPOs rely on -- the land use forecasting models and travel forecasting models. A freight planner must exam how freight movement issues are treated in these models, and also in the respective planning processes. First I will address the land use, planning process and forecasting. Susie already made a few, very, very important comments and some of mine may be repetitive. In land use planning freight traffic generators often are included in general land use categories such as industrial land use or commercial land use. And what happens is that their unique identity is lost, and thus they may not be receiving the recognition or attention that they deserve. The questions that the freight planner should ask are, for example, how does the land use planning process address truck terminals and their locations -- now and in the future. Does it address warehousing and their locations -- now and in the future? How are the other freight generators, for example, the seaport, airport, rail-truck intermodal terminals -- being handled? We must not forget that the ports may need to expand in the future, and they need land for expansion. The truck terminals need to relocate, they need to find suitable locations for those relocations, and, of course, good access. Susie mentioned, and I will repeat, that access to these freight facilities is a very important issue.

Okay, now, let's talk about travel forecasting models. A considerable amount of time and effort is spent in the planning process for developing and applying the four-step travel demand forecasting models. But these models have been primarily oriented to passenger trips, and, as you know, there have been a lot of research and publication, but they all are passenger oriented. They have ignored to a large extent the truck travel patterns. Only a handful of MPOs today make a serious effort to develop truck travel forecasting models. The reasons for not doing so given are: the lack of data, the cost of doing a truck travel survey; but if an MPO is very serious about freight planning it has to do and should do some type of truck travel survey although a full-blown survey may not be possible. The MPOs must also get truck counts at several critical locations, and it goes without saying that all the surveys and count locations must be selected and designed very carefully.

I am going to raise a few more questions about the truck trip modeling. There are a number of ideas and questions that have to be addressed. For example, should separate models be developed for different sizes of trucks? I already mentioned that trucks could vary from small UPS vans to large combination trucks and that their routing patterns could be different. It also should be recognized that truck trip making is more complex than passenger trips, and trip generation and distribution models for them may be somewhat different from those of passenger vehicles. The classic gravity model may not work well for pickup and delivery type truck trips that are tour based or very similar to trip chaining. A few more comments about the truck trip assignment. Should there be a separate network for large trucks reflecting truck route restrictions and roads that are avoided by trucks? Another question: if automobiles and trucks are assigned separately on separate networks, how to account for their combined impact on capacity and speed? I should emphasize that the planners should be able to identify truck trips assigned on a network although these may ultimately have to be combined with other trips, and there are techniques that can do that. I cannot provide specific answers to these questions that I am raising in this presentation. The state-of-the-art for truck travel forecasting frankly is not as advanced as in the case of passenger travel. What I am trying here is to alert freight planner that they should be aware of these questions, no matter whether they try to develop these models in-house or try to get a consultant to do it.

Before I leave the modeling issues, I would like to point out a special type of technique that has been and is being used in a few areas that are a substitute for a truck survey. A mathematical procedure can be used to create a truck trip matrix that would replicate truck counts at a location with reasonable accuracy. These synthetic techniques for truck distribution are not that widely used at this time and more research, of course, is needed. And you need some good data for this synthetic model. This is something that a planner should be aware of and it would be helpful too. I should mention that the Baltimore area MPO recently used this approach.

Now, we must not get too carried away with modeling and travel models, which are really tools for identifying problems and assessing alternative solutions. We need to have some understanding of the common problems and opportunities, and I am going to discuss a few common long range as well as short-range opportunities. Actually, many of these can be identified without using models, especially the short range ones, and the freight advisory committee can be very helpful for this purpose. Many of you know that there has been an excellent session on this -- in this series -- on the role of freight advisory committees. Okay. Among the opportunities that deserve immediate attention, some fall under city planning and some come under traffic engineering. All city planners and traffic engineers can use some strategies to reduce the serious problem that freight carriers face in serving their customers in the downtown area of large and medium sized cities. The problem I am referring to now is finding a place to park a truck or van for delivering or picking up goods from offices or residences in the downtown area. One very helpful strategy is to provide off-street space for trucks. This can be done by using zoning ordinance, which is a very powerful tool. Every city should have requirements in the zoning ordinance regarding off-street loading docks or space to be provided at buildings in proportion to the floor area. However, I found out that many cities do not have these requirements and they leave it up to the architect to figure out and which does not get done many times. In many cases, the spaces, even when provided, do not help, because they are misused and poorly designed for trucks. You cannot get to these places because the access is poorly designed. The picture that I have here on this slide shows a very small off-street loading dock which, I think, is meant for two trucks. As you can see, one of the spaces is occupied by a dumpster. A large high-rise building needs many more spaces. They are actually standards used by a few planning agencies for estimating what is needed based on the land use category and, of course, the floor area. One other planning oriented opportunity I would like to mention, and this is applicable to locations outside a CBD. They are usually referred to, or they may be referred to, as transportation parks or as freight villages. What I am referring to is that in most urban areas freight terminals are scattered around and some cause conflicts with surrounding developments. If instead of these being scattered everywhere, if they can be concentrated at a few locations along with businesses that serve them, then a buffer can be provided and special access also can be provided to these areas. This could be a very useful approach. I think Susie made this point, and land use planning and land use strategies are very important, but you do need to be proactive.

Now let's see how city traffic engineers can help. They really can help freight carriers in a variety of ways. Number 1, they can provide adequate loading zones along curbside of downtown streets. They can remove obstacles along major truck routes. They can design intersections appropriately for accommodating the turning radius of large trucks at selected locations where the truck turning volume is heavy, and I am going to give you a few examples. Now, this picture that I am showing on this slide is an ideal location for a loading zone. What the picture is showing is a cutout in the sidewalk where trucks can park safely. Cut-outs or turn-outs are possible in a wide side walk and these avoid the obstruction of traffic on through lanes. Actually, there are many interesting aspects of loading zones. When I refer to loading zones, I am referring to on-street or curbside loading zones. There are issues related to eligibility, that is which vehicles are eligible to park; where to put them; how to mark them; how to design them; what time of day these should operate. These are interesting issues that have to be addressed. There are a couple of signs here on this slide. One is showing a commercial loading zone and the other one, actually, specifies truck loading zones. So these are for different types of vehicles. The other picture here is not a curbside loading zone, but this space was reserved for only a certain type of vehicles that have a very fast turnover. An important point here is that the delay that freight carriers experience, the traffic tickets that they receive for double parking, increases the cost of doing business. These costs are ultimately passed on to the shippers and ultimately the consumers end up for paying for these inefficient freight delivery systems. The point here is that trying to help freight companies is really helping ourselves indirectly. It is not just helping them, but it is helping the community. Curb space management is, by the way, a very important component of the duties of the city traffic engineering departments, and it is very challenging because it is not just for trucks. There are other users -- buses, taxi cabs, service vehicles, as I had mentioned, and the Institute of Transportation Engineers, ITE, is very aware of this, and it is trying to develop a set of good practice guidelines. The issue here is who gets priority and when, and those are tricky to resolve sometimes.

Now, before quitting or before ending, I have to say just a few words about through movements. So far, all the issues that I have mentioned mostly involve internal truck movement. But in some communities long distance through truck travel is a serious issue. Motorists are afraid of large trucks and want to impose restrictions on them. However, any proposed restrictions should be assessed carefully before implementation. In some areas with major rail service, rail-highway grade crossings located inside an urban area may be a major issue with regard to safety and delay. City traffic engineers should pay more attention to these problems. They need to work more closely with the state DOT engineers on these issues. There are a few words of advice I would like to pass on to the new freight planners. Freight planning is somewhat different from passenger travel planning. There are some unique difficulties that a planner faces and here are a few:

The general public has a very negative attitude toward freight service providers.

Elected officials do not always give high priority to freight vehicles for planning. There is a saying that freight does not vote and so it does not get much attention.

Freight planners need cooperation of private freight companies. But the problem is that private freight companies are skeptical. They want fast action and often do not get the results that they want to see. They expect strategies to be implemented quickly.

Here are a few more words of advice: You must use a practical approach. You must not overlook the major concerns and issues of public and private sectors. You have to look into both sides. You need to implement a few strategies quickly to gain the confidence of private sector and, to get them on your side. You need to publicize the case or the need for freight transportation by using news media, chamber of commerce, trade associations, etc.

I have listed a few selected references on this slide and on the next slide. Unfortunately some of these references are fairly old publications and may not be easily accessible. The first one here by

Ken Ogden is a book and has a fairly extensive list of references and that should be relevant. The other two are FHWA sponsored reports. And here are a few more. The NCHRP report on truck trip generation came out not too long ago. It, of course, is available. There are a couple of papers, fairly old, but the content is extremely valid, and they may be available.

Before closing, I would like to thank Bob Gorman of FHWA for inviting me. I would like to acknowledge that I did consult with a few of my friends, who are very knowledgeable: Ted Dahlburg, Gerald Rawling, Jocelyn Jones, and Michael Fischer. Again, I am happy and it is a pleasure to share some thoughts for you. Thanks.

Jennifer Seplow:

Thank you, Arun. That was a very informative presentation. While you were presenting the slides there was some great discussion typed in the chat area and some great questions typed in there. What I will do is read out the questions now, have you and Susie answer them and then open the line for questions. We definitely have a good amount of time for questions and answers and a assume there are many of you out there for questions. Let's see, this one generated a lot of discussion. Susie and Arun, I would like to hear your point of view on both of these. We will start with Susie. It's --that shipping companies are using trucks as preferred mode to distribute container cargo are there any incentives to use more rail rather than trucks?

Susie Lahsene:

Well, that is a really good question. I think just about everybody in the country is grappling with that issue today. The challenge is, as we have seen, if you haven't red the rail bottom line report, it is a real worthwhile long and the short of it is that the rail, the rail carriers are challenged as private companies to meet their capital needs into the future, and, to a large extent, are divesting themselves of portions of the system so it begins to make an argument for, is there a public--is there a public role in the rail--in providing more effective and efficient rail service? And I think that is a debate that we are going to hear more and more from. In this, in the Portland region, what I can tell you is that we have found, to a large extent, that depending on the products moved, the rail industry is very much focused on the main line, not as concerned about what you might describe as sort of the short line portion of the system or that system that serves the, sort of broader market. And so--it's really a financial or an economic reasoning. Until we can find ways to increase efficiencies and make that kind of service more cost-effective for the rail carrier, I think truck is going to continue to be the most efficient and cost-effective mode. Now, having said that, that's just kind of a perspective, I do believe there are opportunities and this area and there are tremendous opportunities that we haven't really fully evaluated yet. So, I feel very optimistic that rail can help in the urban environment. But you have to be pretty creative. You have to understand what is moving in the urban environment to be able come up with those strategies and solutions.

Jennifer Seplow: Arun, I would like to hear your point of view on that.

Arun Chatterjee:

I think Susie touched on the main points. I can see this question in the context of sea ports and I know personally some sea ports are dying to have more rail access and have containers moving by rail from their ports. But the rail companies in those locations say that they don't have the volume. There are some economics of scale, and this is a small port I am referring to, and they just cannot come up with the volume of containers there to justify the rail company to begin a dedicated intermodal train from the port. So it is a chicken and egg situation in that case. I mean, they (ports0 are saying that if they provide rail access our business will grow, and they (rail companies) are saying we cannot provide until you give us enough business. So it's a tough question. It is economics. I think it's a question of economics. For the public sector to provide incentive, the only way I can see that done is by improving access or infrastructure related improvements. That I can see.

Jennifer Seplow:

Okay. The next question, I think, could be to both of you as well, and we will start with arum's answer first. How do you address the business framework of trucking companies alongside the planning process? I.e., they live quarter by quarter and don't relate to five- year and 20 year planning horizons.

Arun Chatterjee:

Okay. Yes, I think I mentioned that already in my talk that it doesn't match. (By the way, I thought I saw a comment about what MPO stands for. It is Metropolitan Planning Organization.) For the local agencies in the public sector, their time frame and their decision-making process are so different from the private sector. Very odd mismatch, and private sector just cannot wait 20 years or 15 years or 10 years for the planning process to be completed. They want action. I don't see any, you know, immediate solution. But there are certain things that could be done, that could be quickly implemented that would make the private sector happy. But it is not easy to resolve these issues.

Jennifer Seplow:

Susie.

Susie Lahsene:

Boy, I couldn't agree more. I think one approach that has been used successfully around the country is the notion of a freight advisory committee, and even --engaging both shippers as well as carriers in that process. So it's a little bit of educating the planning staff about how carriers make decisions, but it's--it also provides an opportunity to educate the carriers about the planning process--such as it is. And at this point, I think to a large extent, we provides--recognize that it is not as responsive as the framework for individual carriers, not only carriers but frankly every industry in every business. They are not only--they are trying to optimize their objective for a particular company and they have to, you know, move on that time frame. I think that the things that we can try to do, as people in the planning arena, is appreciate that, and recognize that they are largely driven by economics or finances and to the extent that we can create immediate wins that meet their needs as well as ours, I think that's, you know, heading in the write-- right direction.

Jennifer Seplow:

Thank you. This question is regarding the commodity flow forecast. It was mentioned that there are 41 industrial sectors. Are the 41 geographic or commodity based?

Susie Lahsene:

They were commodity based. They were selected--the 41--this is just for the Portland region, and it was what we developed based on our understanding of the economic base of the six-county area here, and so we looked at essentially all the sic codes for the six-county area and tried to group them into those that were going to produce the biggest impact in terms of freight volume to the transportation system, and then we selected those 41 commodities to take a look at and--in detail and forecast into the future. And I want to emphasize that this is not, even though it is called a commodity flow forecast, is not the same as the national level commodity flow forecast. What we did in this region was actually knit together the pierce data base which is water borne imports and exports, the army corps of engineers data base our own forecast data base as well as the commodity flow, the national commodity flow plus the way rail bill and coordinate so it was broader, if you will than just the --national commodity flow database.

Jennifer Seplow:

Thank you Susie. Arun, you mentioned data in your presentation everybody agrees there is a lack of data for trucks. Yet does anybody know of remedies for this? I want to get your perspective on that.

Arun Chatterjee:

Does anybody have to come from the state DOT, then--then the urban--is the state--and is a matter of funding to a large extent, and there are planning funds and if the--it's a matter of allocation, and if an MPO really wants to do a truck survey and use their planning funds that they get, planning funds come from fee then state--I am not an expert on the funding flow, but there are funds available, it's a matter of what they are used for. It can be done but something has to give. It is a matter of giving priority and then putting more resources. But it doesn't have to be, you know, that. I would not have to say that one has a full-blown stake-- survey but there are ways to design is survey carefully to capture the important thing. I think sometimes we go to data collection not knowing what it is going to be used for and all of that. Maybe the first task would be to identify what are the issues of the problems in that area and then identify what data needs to have a good analysis and then focus on that. And then that way nothing would be wasted. But I think if there is a will there is a way that it can be done.

Jennifer Seplow:

Thank you I actually have another question for you Arun. Local governments administer zoning regulations. How can MPO facilitate the process to facilitate urban goods movement?

Arun Chatterjee:

Well, they have to talk to them; they have to talk to the city. I walked into a city to find out what ordinance they have, what requirements they have for truck loading docks and they didn't have any; but MPOs work closely, they have to tell them. They have to find out and convince them, if you don't have it. What it would take, what steps you have to go through. When it comes to automobile parking standards they have it. Why shouldn't there be some for truck loading and unloading spaces? Sometimes MPOs are in the same building -- not always. They have to talk, and it can be done.

Jennifer Seplow:

Thank you. Susie, we have another question for you. What are some of your successes with your freight advisory council?

Susie Lahsene:

Well, I think the biggest success is certainly getting attention to freight at the level that we have in the Portland region. This region in particular has spent quite a bit of time trying to understand passenger movement and, in particular, is focused on light rail development. Attention to freight has been minimal in the past. And I think with the freight advisory committee, we have a number of industries now involved in discussing freight, not only within the city, but now we also have a region wide freight advisory committee and a state statewide freight advisory committee and there is a linkage between all of them, and the level of the conversation and sort of the tone and just the interest has really been incredible. From a very practical standpoint, I also want to mention that our last legislative session passed a $2.5 billion transportation enhancing package with a focus on freight, and that was largely the result of the freight advisory committee's efforts.

Jennifer Seplow:

Okay. Arun, I am to ask you one more question, then we will open up the lines for participants to ask questions. Arun, what can planners do to overcome the difficulties that you outlined in your presentation?

Arun Chatterjee:

Well, number one, to be fully aware of those and, I think, we already discussed how to work with the private sector. I think Susie gave a very good answer, that you have to be honest and you have to open up a channel of communication, you know. Don't bring them in for a meeting and then that's it, and then don't have any contact for them for two years. But to keep them interested, you know, they should be continuously updated about what is going on and then they would realize the planning process. Why the public sector cannot move because they have to take care of all of these requirements -- public participation and all that. They will understand that. But do the things that can be done quickly. It's a combination of things. It is not easy, but if you are really sincere and honest, it can be done.

Jennifer Seplow

Thank you. Just real quickly, I have had several requests for copies of the chat that is up there. I will definitely be e-mailing that out everybody to has participated. At this point, I think we are going to open it--up to participant questions. Operator you want to go --ahead with directions that would be great.

Operator:

certainly. Ma'am. Ladies and gentlemen if you would like to a question please press 1 followed by 4 on your touchtone phone. If your question has been answered and you would like to withdraw your registration, press the 1 followed by the 3. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, we welcome your questions and your comments. Please press the 1 followed by the 3. One moment for our first question.

Bob Gorman, FHWA:

I have got a question for Arun.

okay.

Are there any model codes for the loading docks or buildings?

Arun Chatterjee:

Yes, there are some. One of the references I have included is called the Characteristics of Urban Freight. And if you can get hold of that, there is a chapter that I wrote where I gave examples from two areas, one from Dallas, Texas, and the other one was from Maryland, I think Montgomery county, Maryland. They were slightly different but very close, and both are very good. If you cannot get hold of that, send me an e-mail with your address. I can copy those pages and send it to you.

Operator:

Thank you. We now have a question coming from the line of Mr. Dave Weaver, City of Denver. Please go ahead.

Dave Weaver, City of Denver:

Hello, yes. My question has to do with dealing with the public in terms of truck issues, and what we hear is that people don't like trucks because they are noisy, because they bell which dirty--belch dirty diesel fumes, their size. And also, I don't know how well the cities and other municipalities and states are dealing with the damage to pavements caused by increasing vehicle size and weight and tire pressures. So it seems to me that the industry really has a kind of public relations problem here and I am just wondering about the thoughts there how they are dealing with this and what we--solving this problem and what we might see in the future.

Jennifer Seplow:

Susie do you want to handle that?

Susie Lahsene:

I will take a stab at it initially. You know, boy, we have the exact same issue in the Portland region, and I am guessing that just about everybody on the, on this today would agree with you, that there are a number of negatives associate with trucking. One of the things that we have tried to do in the planning process, though, is identify truck core doss--corridors. Now all streets obviously are open to trucks but if there is a way to sent trucks to use certain corridors as opposed to others, I think that is a good thing. I think that helps to offset the issue. I also think that some discussion in the planning arena, and we have spent some time working with the local governments on this, is as they start to think about urban centers or planning in an urban environment and residential issues, and you can bring both the trucking interests in with the community and have the dialogue together, it's raising that the, you know, what the trucking interests will learn, but also what the community will learn and they begin to appreciate that, you know, there is actually a person here trying to accomplish their job. And believe it or not, in the case of starbucks, I mean starbucks relies on trucks, for example. So even the smallest sort of business has to have--has to have trucking to some--but I think your question was more has the industry generally realized that they have this pr problem. And I don't know if they have. I guess maybe that's a question to ask of ata. I know the local trucking chapters of ata have different approaches. And the Portland region, actually in the state of Oregon, we have been at logger heads with the trucking industry for some time over transportation financing. Some the most recent past, they have become very cooperative with us on that. And so, I think, that to me signals that they are beginning to understand that they are--they have to be part of the solution, at least that's the experience we have had here in the Portland region.

Arun Chatterjee:

I want to add some thing here. The truck drivers belonging to the well-known national companies are very courteous. They hardly ever, you know, exceed speed limits. But the trucking industry is huge and there are so many smaller companies with independent owner operators, and some are fighting for their lives (survival). Some of these are very aggressive drivers. It is a mixed situation. Some are very aggressive drivers, small companies. But, again, there are very courteous drivers also. Sometimes I hear from the truck drivers themselves at how poor the four wheelers drive. They cut in front of them and cause the accidents. So it's a very difficult problem. In some areas, for example in LA area, planners are looking into some 'truck only' highways, or, you know, special lanes for trucks. It will take a long time for those to be implemented. Another problem area is near interchanges where trucks go to truck terminals or truck stops, which may be located close to residential areas. And local people get very upset with the trucks. This could be solved by urban planning, and with the freight village and transportation park, I had mentioned, where one could designate a separate interchange for accessing that park complex. Thus trucks do not have to get mixed up with automobiles. But this specific fix cannot be implemented overnight.

Operator:

Thank you. We now have a question comes--coming from the line of Barry Zalph, Louisville Metro Pollution Control District. Go ahead.

Barry Zalph:

Hi, Susie was talking about trucks--in the urban areas and the difficulty of restricting them on local roads and so on. I am looking at a situation with trucks on interstate highways. Here in Kentucky, about 40% of our my trick oxygen comes from primary truck traffic and the expanding amount of traffic on truck highways comes from an increase in truck traffic as opposed to any projected increase in private motor traffic, off road vehicles, that sort of thing. So I am wondering if there is any way local and state governments can provide incentives or otherwise push the industry towards a greater mode share of freight moving by rail rather than truck.

Arun Chatterjee:

Susie, let me respond first.

Susie Lahsene:

Sure

Arun Chatterjee:

Okay. I think mode share is a very difficult issue for local agencies to get into. I honestly don't see how the planning commission in Louisville or Nashville could influence a shift of goods from one mode to the other. This has to be addressed at a national level and that is a very difficult issue. From air quality side, there are things that can be done with trucks. My understanding of air quality based on what I have been involved with, is that as long as the through trucks are moving at a constant speed it is not bad. The problem is more in the downtown area. However, the delivery companies such as UPS, FedEx are switching in many cases to natural gas and low emission vehicles. And there is an opportunity, I see, of providing incentives, special incentives, such as a special loading zone, special loading docks that are reserved for low emission vehicles. LA is doing that. Some other areas may also be doing that. So I can see it applicable to smaller delivery vans and that local agencies could do something to reduce air pollution.

Barry Zalph:

Thank you.

Susie Lahsene:

Arun, I think that's a great answer. The only thing I would add to that is the whole idea of mode shift, and I know I am starting to sound like a broken record, but it is a matter of economics. So those products that are heavier, that need to move long distances, are going to be more attractive for the rail system. Those products that are not as heavy and go shorter distances are not going to be very attractive for the rail system. And so you kind of have to think about it from what you are talking about rather than just, you know, mode-- being focused on the mode itself.

Operator:

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, once again as a reminder, for audio participants, if you would like to register for a question, please press the 1 followed by the 4. Ms. Seplow, there appear to be no further questions from the audio line. I will turn the over to you once again.

Jennifer Seplow:

Okay. At this point, if are--there are no further questions. Actually we have a question in the room here at federal highways.

Allen Greenberg, FHWA:

I apologize, I'm a bit late. So if this was covered please just tell me. But it seems to me that often, and I took an interest from the question from the gentleman from Kentucky, because my experience generally, the trucks being the majority of traffic, at least in metropolitan areas like Washington DC, the cars are the issue and sprawling development patterns and the increases in cars. I guess my question is, I often see the trucking community on opposite sides of debate. It strikes me that there is a potential for a very large common interest, that is preserving our existing capacity on roadways and controlling the growth and placing roadways and that sort of thing to make sure that whatever improvements we make or whatever I can put them in is not overwhelmed by cars, increased car travel, increased traffic on the roads, whatever. I was wondering whether either or both of you had any thoughts or insights on that.

Susie Lahsene:

I would like to respond if I could. This is Susie. I grow with the concept the--I agree with the concept the way you have outlined it. When we look at trucks in the urban areas, their percentage of the overall traffic stream, in some cases can be as high as 40%, that is primarily serving the terminals themselves, whether marine, air or rail. But for the majority of the system, it is less than 10%. So the bigger issue real is--he'll--really is the auto and potentially service, service traffic, and are there things that you can do to preserve capacity for freight in a creative way, that doesn't add additional capacity for automobile traffic. And I can--I think that's actually. I think that is one of the interesting and challenging areas that we need to be thinking a little bit more about. And I would also say that the incentive that Arun discussed in terms of looking at low emission vehicles and is --transitioning to different kinds of engines holds an awful lot of appeal from the --standpoint of air quality for our region, and I think certainly both the environmental community and the freight community would be aligned on that.

Arun, did you have any--

Arun Chatterjee:

No, I think Susie handled it very well.

Jennifer Seplow:

Okay. Have any other questions come in on the phone?

Operator:

At this time, ma'am, we have no further questions from the audio lines.

Jennifer Seplow

Okay. Well at this point, I think we will close this seminar. I wanted to thank all of you for attending the 5th seminar and a recorded version will be available in the next the day or so on the talking freight website. There are a few things I want to point out before I close the seminar. We do have a December 7 seminar--coming up. You can register on the talking freight website for that one. We are planning for the 2004 seminars right now. We will have the first six-months of 2004 online for you to register for within the next few weeks. I will send e-mail out to everybody who has participated in a previous seminar to let you know of this. The second thing I wanted to mention was the FHWA course this is an NHI course, 139001 and information about it is available on the NHI a website www.nhi.dot.gov and the course should be ready by January 2004. I would like to thank Susie and Arun for their presentations today. Both were very informative. I would like to thank all the participants for the discussion that was generated during their presentations. I will be e-mailing the discussion out to as well as a transcript of the entire seminar. So thank you all and have a nice day.

Contact Information

Spencer Stevens
Office of Planning
spencer.stevens@dot.gov
Phone: 202-366-0149/717-221-4512
Carol Keenan
Office of Freight Management & Operations
carol.keenan@fhwa.dot.gov
Phone: 202-366-6993

 

Updated: 03/29/2011
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