STRATEGIES TO MAXIMIZE ASSET UTILIZATION IN THE CALIFORNIA FREIGHT SYSTEM: PART I – BACKGROUND AND GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS
Relevant California state agencies and departments are working together to develop the California Sustainable Freight Strategy 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 draft a series of five white papers that will examine broad-based approaches to increase the efficiency of the freight system.
This paper (Part I of a two-part series) 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; while specific strategies are discussed in the second part of this series. 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 improvements on its own. The inherently complex nature of the system will require an equally complex set of solutions.