City logistics is an essential part of Australia’s economic activities. With more people moving into cities, accompanied by surging online, last-mile deliveries, and other commercial activities, freight volumes are projected to grow over the next decade. This will result in more commercial vehicles on the road further exasperating congestion and worsening air quality.
New solutions for city logistics
Finding new solutions to accommodate the growth of urban freight delivery will be essential to ensuring the quality of urban life in our growing cities. Australian research aims to address this problem by identifying, modeling, and evaluating a number of solutions that can provide effective, efficient, and affordable delivery options that can promote sustainable transport principles, reduce congestion and emissions. The research will identify solutions that will be applicable to all Australian cities.
Traffic simulation model
To demonstrate the feasibility of these new urban delivery solutions, the research will develop a traffic simulation model for Melbourne that can be used as a case study to showcase how these solutions would work and what their impacts will be. Various scenarios will be applied representing different city growth and freight demand patterns, a range of population growth scenarios, fleet composition, and a number of forecast horizons (e.g. short-term to 2025 and long-term up to 2050).
Once calibrated and validated, the model will be used to test the effectiveness and impacts of the proposed solutions in terms of reducing congestion, emissions, delivery times, and cost. Combinations of solutions will also be tested and evaluated as it is expected that converging these solutions would amplify the benefits.
To tackle urban freight practitioners and academics have proposed a variety of solutions including:
- Off-peak deliveries
- Urban Consolidation Centres (UCC)
- Crossdocking platforms
- Mobile Depots (MD)
- On-street Loading/Unloading (L/U) bays
On-street Loading/Unloading (L/U) bays
This last, a relatively simple parking infrastructure has been recognized as an important strategy for the management of freight traffic. The limited supply and inadequate location of freight parking areas is one of the major causes of double and/or illegal parking and is the main driver for controlling freight-related externalities.
The research aims to identify, model, and evaluate a number of solutions that can provide effective, efficient, and affordable urban delivery options that can promote sustainable transport principles, reduce congestion and emissions. The research will identify solutions that are applicable to all Australian cities and jurisdictions with a focused case study for Melbourne.
This work proposes the use of a simulation/optimization framework to find the operational (routing time and length, walking distance) and environmental (congestion, emissions, and noise) trade-offs generated by the optimal number and location of L/U bays. These trade-offs will be derived by analyzing the interaction between the decisions made by the optimization model and the variability of stochastic parameters like traffic conditions, L/U bay occupation, illegal parking, and the decision-making process of freight carriers.
By using a microsimulation model, we will evaluate the optimal decisions under a wide range of scenarios, and at the same time, we will provide feedback to improve these decisions and to guarantee the generation of robust solutions.