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W. Cottrell

Cal Poly Pomona

Performance Metrics Used by Freight Transport Providers

Wayne D. Cottrell, Ph.D., P.E., Civil Engineering Department California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

ABSTRACT

The newly-established National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) has allocated $300,000 in funding to a project entitled “Performance Metrics for Freight Transportation” (NCFRP 03). The

project is scheduled for completion in discussion, “public and private decisions analysis of the impacts of those decisions. commonly in the public sector. As the nation’s highway, rail, waterway, air, and

September 2009.

According to the project’s background

related

to

the

freight

industry

should

be

based

on

a

thorough

These

analyses

are

routinely

made

in

the

private

sector

but

less

demand for port systems,

freight movements outstrips the the effects are felt as congestion,

capacity of the upward pressure

on freight prices, and longer and less reliable transit times. These indicators of distress in transportation system result in increased supply costs for manufacturers, higher import prices, inventory levels. Ultimately, these costs add up to a higher cost of doing business for firms, a of living for consumers, and a less productive and competitive economy. Such indicators

the freight and higher higher cost need to be

quantified consistent

to be useful performance

to decision metrics for

makers as well as for public education on the freight system will be very helpful in

freight issues. Establishing conducting and comparing

analyses of the performance.” that is, that of NCFRP study,

freight system, particularly by identifying the critical data that are needed to assess system This report investigates freight transportation performance metrics from one perspective; the freight transport providers. In combining the findings of this study with those of the and other efforts, it may be possible to develop a basis for national and international goods

movement performance freight transport issues, growth that is facilitated

measurement. One objective is for the measures and to relieve some of the industry’s “distress,” by an efficient goods movement system.

to be while

used to better understand facilitating the economic

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

A total of 19 billion tons of freight, having a total value of $13 trillion, were moved in the U.S. in 2002. The dominant freight transport modes, in terms of ton-mileage, were trucks, railroads, pipelines, and ships. Aviation had the fifth greatest modal contribution. Trucks accounted for 70% of the value of all shipments in the U.S. Railroads dominated the long-distance (greater than 500 miles) freight market. Aviation dominated the international shipment of high-valued goods. Freight transportation’s leading providers were Schneider National Carriers and United Parcel Service in the trucking industry, Union Pacific in the railroad industry, Ingram Barge Company in waterborne shipping, FedEx Express in air freight, El Paso Natural Gas in natural gas pipeline throughput, and Enbridge Energy in oil pipeline throughput. The national freight infrastructure was served by extensive highway, railroad, waterway, and pipeline networks, as well as large port and airport systems. The backbone of the highway system is the National Network, an extensive truck system that is essentially equivalent to the 46,871-mile Interstate System. The railroad network encompasses 141,698 miles, of which 95,663 miles are owned by the Class I railroads. The waterborne shipping industry is supported by the nation’s 300-plus ports, the largest of which serve ocean-going vessels in the Gulf of Mexico (South Louisiana), Pacific Ocean (Los Angeles- Long Beach), and Atlantic Ocean (New York City). The 9,300-mile inland commercial waterways system stretches into the interior of the central U.S.; locks, dams and levees are in need of upgrading to sustain the viability of this aspect of the maritime industry. The (mostly) underground flow of goods is supported by 1,414,200 miles of natural gas pipelines, and 131,353 miles of oil pipelines. There are over 5,200 public-use airports in the U.S., many of which are equipped to accommodate air freight. John F.

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