Service trip attraction in commercial establishments

Commercial traffic in urban areas has not received the level of attention it deserves. Notwithstanding recent research on urban freight trip generation, other components of commercial traffic, such as commercial service traffic, have been largely overlooked. This is ironic, as the service sector represents a major and growing portion of urban and metropolitan economies.

Research by José Holguín-Veras, Lokesh Kalahasthi, and Diana G. Ramirez-Rios intends to help fill an important research gap through analyses of unique survey data collected by the authors. To this effect, the research comprehensively characterizes service visits to commercial establishments—in terms of frequency, purpose, duration, time of day, and other characteristics—by industry sector for two metropolitan areas. In addition, the authors estimated econometric models that express the number of service trips to commercial establishments as a function of the economic characteristics of the establishment and assessed the geographic transferability of the models obtained.

To gain insight into the overall magnitude of service-related traffic, the models were applied to publicly available data to estimate the service activity in American cities of various sizes. The resulting service traffic is used to estimate of parking requirements of service and freight vehicles for the most congested ZIP codes in these cities.

The implementation of policies to reduce the impacts of service traffic on parking utilization is bound to have a large impact on congestion. The research in this paper identified two potentially transformative policies. The first is the segregation of parking spaces for service and freight vehicles. The intent here is to separate these heterogeneous user classes to maximize throughput, in the same way, that supermarkets allocate separate cashiers for customers with only a few items. Expressed as a percent of the total parking requirements, service vehicles generate from 22.7% to 78.4%, because of the effects of the duration times, while they only represent 6.32% to 24.84% of the total commercial traffic.

The segregation of freight and service parking areas would minimize freight vehicle waiting times, and the externalities associated with double parking and cruising for parking. In this concept, the more numerous freight vehicles should be given priority for parking close to commercial areas, while service vehicles should be located within easy reach to the commercial areas, though farther away. As long as the benefits associated with the proposed segregation are larger than the negative effects, the segregation would be economically beneficial.


José Holguín-Veras, Lokesh Kalahasthi, Diana G. Ramirez-Rios, Service trip attraction in commercial establishments, Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Volume 149, 2021, 102301, ISSN 1366-5545


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