The feasibility of urban waterway transport in Amsterdam

The city of Amsterdam needs a reliable transport and mobility system to foster economic growth, but at the same time transport is causing congestion, pollution, and accidents. Maarten Jan Roosmale Nepveu from TU Delft looked at implementing urban waterway transport as a sustainable freight transport solution in Amsterdam (NL). 

Political Economy Framework Political Economy Framework

To scientifically explore the research question, Transport Innovation Adoption Theory and Transition Management Theory are used as theoretical research lenses. The Political Economy Framework Political Economy Framework (PEF) from Feitelson and Salomon, has been complemented with the PESTEL Classification Framework to systematically address the feasibility of Urban Waterway Transport (UWT). Desk-research and expert interviewing have been used to obtain a rich understanding of the factors determining the feasibility and a focus group meeting is organized to envision pathways to overcome existing failure factors.

The extent to which waterway transport can be implemented as a sustainable freight transport solution depends on the condition that the alternative, road transport, becomes less attractive. Many of the canal walls and bridges in Amsterdam are in bad condition and as a result of maintenance projects and a ban on heavy freight vehicles in the center, road accessibility is considered to decrease. This stimulates a modal shift towards waterway transport, but a lack of transshipment locations, vague transport policy, and failing cooperation seem reason for failing implementation.

Lack of clear policies

Currently, a lack of transshipment locations, vague urban freight policies, and failing cooperation between companies are reasons for failing implementation. Both public and private actors recognized the importance of executing pilots to fill existing knowledge gaps regarding the development of transport policy and technology. Waterway transporters are willing to participate in long-term pilots but require political support in the form of temporary transshipment permits and subsidies to succeed.

Conflicting public interests and a lack of long-term focus seems to hold against the providence of financial and regulatory support. For practical purposes, this thesis contributes by recommending the Transition Management Approach to foster sustainable waterway transport development. Three practical policy strategies are suggested to foster the potential for implementing urban waterway transport in Amsterdam.

Analytical framework

This study theoretically contributes by providing an innovative analytical framework that constitutes a pragmatic, dynamic and multi-level perspective approach to improve understanding of innovation implementation. To support policymakers and scientists in the evaluation of innovations, it is recommended to explore and improve the applicability of the suggested framework by applying the framework to address other cases.

Source: Implementing urban waterway transport as a sustainable freight transport solution: A case study for the city of Amsterdam by Maarten Jan Roosmale Nepveu (TU Delft Technology, Policy and Management)


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