Relevant California state agencies and departments are working together to develop the California Sustainable Freight Strategy (CSFS) for a sustainable freight transport system that relies on zero and near-zero emission equipment powered by renewable energy sources. This equipment also meets multiple goals, including: enhancing the economic competitiveness and efficiency of California’s logistics system, creating jobs, and increasing the safety and livability of freight corridors. As part of this effort, researchers from the National Center for Sustainable Transportation worked with representatives from state agencies, industry, non-governmental agencies, and academia to develop a series of five white papers that examined broad-based approaches to increase the efficiency of the freight system.
The "General Recommendations and Potential Improvement Strategies" white paper provides a brief overview of the freight system, with an emphasis on key stakeholders, their roles and interactions, and implications associated with the types of freight movements and layers of the economy. Moreover, the work discusses major inefficiencies in the on-road trucking and maritime sectors, where congestion often impedes maximizing asset utilization. The paper presents a number of general recommendations to improve freight efficiency; as well as specific potential strategies that could improve or help maximize asset utilization by fostering collaborative logistics (CL) practices and/or freight demand management (FDM).
General recommendations include: conducting sound freight planning at all levels with emphasis on urban freight; identifying behaviors that need to be fostered, or mitigated, among the various stakeholders; developing participatory stakeholder engagement; fostering information sharing; developing plans, agreements and platforms for active conversation to address labor issues; investing in workforce development; and investing in research and continued improvement efforts. In addition, this paper acknowledges the fact that it is not likely that any single strategy will result in significant enough of improvements on its own. The inherently complex nature of the system will require an equally complex set of solutions.
The strategies analyzed in this paper include: receiver-led consolidation; voluntary off-hour delivery programs; development of an integrated Chassis Pool of Pools; integrated system for dray services; load matching and maximizing capacity; improving Traffic Mitigation Fee programs; implementing advanced appointment and reservation systems; and relaxing vehicle size and weight restrictions. The paper discusses each strategy in terms of its nature (CL or FDM); the geographic scope of the inefficiency or implementation; the expected benefits; level of implementation effort/time/cost; the primary stakeholders targeted; the stakeholders’ role in the implementation/planning effort; the potential for unintended consequences; and barriers for implementation. The research shows that there is great variability in the level of data available (e.g., research reports, operational reports, implementation programs, pilot tests) to conduct detailed assessments, highlighting the need for additional efforts to be able to estimate the magnitude of the potential effects of each strategy to reduce inefficiencies (e.g., congestion/delays, environmental emissions, safety, and economic impacts, and costs, among others). However, stakeholder engagement during the research process allowed for a qualitative assessment based on empirical evidence from on-going efforts.