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Performance Metrics Used by Freight Transport Providers - page 12 / 35





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W. Cottrell

Cal Poly Pomona

Other Modes

In addition to the primary freight modes of trucking, railroads, maritime and pipelines, as well as aviation, goods are also moved in the U.S. by bicycle couriers, foot messengers, cars, and motorcycles. Limited statistics are available on these “other modes.” IBIS World reported that local delivery and messenger services were a $7.9 billion industry in 2007, with about 220,000 employees and about 177,000 business

establishments. services. The

A total of 73.4% remaining 26.6%





of the revenue were earned by pickup, van, and small car delivery of the revenue were earned by bicycle and foot messengers, and truck delivery services. Although this sector is a vital component of

the freight transport industry, particularly in the central business districts by local delivery and messenger services represents less than 0.1% of industry revenue.

of cities, the total

the revenue generated U.S. freight transport

Yet another category is the “virtual” shipping of documents by e-mail, fax and the internet. These electronic modes have not yet been incorporated into the scope of transportation engineering. That is, freight transportation statistics do not reflect “electronic” goods, although the impact of these virtual modes of transport on the traditional modes has been discussed. De Jong et al. (2006), for example, predicted that freight transport would increase in the so-called “e-economy.” Similarly, Smith et al. (2002) predicted rapid growth in “e-business,” and the potential for freight transport to aid this growth. Although the indication is that freight transport activity will increase in the e-economy, the impact on local messengers and couriers has not been identified.


The diversity of the U.S. freight transportation industry is evident in the data shown in Table 3. Air, road, water, rail and pipeline modes are used to move goods. Trucking dominates the amount of freight revenue generated in the U.S., but railroads are competitive with trucks in terms of total shipment weight. Aviation makes only a minor contribution to domestic freight, but is a major player in international shipments. Performance measures and standards are diverse, to fit the needs of the various modes and categories within the modes, as well as the modal providers. A few performance measures are common to all modes, such as revenue and ton-mileage. A full understanding of the measures, measurement needs, and standards of freight transport providers requires an investigation of the separate modes and, to a certain extent, the providers themselves. The industry is competitive, primarily as a consequence of governmental deregulation of the various modes. It is a challenge to “tap into” the data and statistics of the industry given the proprietary aspects. The Surface Transportation Board and the U.S. Department of Transportation require that certain statistics be reported, however, enabling an investigation of this information. This study focused on learning from the readily-available data. A more extensive – and expensive – investigation would involve industrial contacts, and possibly a survey, to acquire a fuller understanding of freight transport provider performance. The following sections of this report feature a review of the literature on freight transport performance measures, followed by a discussion of performance within each of the freight modes.


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