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Measuring Improvements in the Movement of Highway and Intermodal Freight

business — carriers, shippers, receivers, and others — have their own concepts of “on time” that is important for them, there is probably significant variation in the details of their definitions.  Nonetheless, it is a very important measure of quality.  It may well be the case that this indicator may be better addressed within the framework of the customer-satisfaction measure discussed below.

Data

Many of the required types of data are proprietary.  Obtaining it in any systematic way would be difficult.  It is also likely to be costly because it would require the development of a survey of some sort. It is fairly easy to gather anecdotal information by talking with third-party marketers, logistics firms, and the like, but this is not the kind of data that will support an official performance measure.  

Scores

Descriptive value

3

Technical appropriateness

1

Data availability

Difficult

Data cost

High

Point-to-Point Travel Times for Freight-Significant Highways

Hours of Delay per 1000 Vehicle-Miles on Freight-Significant Highways

Hours of Incident-Based Delay on Freight-Significant Highways

Descriptive Value

These three indicators are grouped together because they are concerned with measures of speed and delay on freight-significant highways.  This is an important class of measures. They all rank high in terms of descriptive value. Terms like speed, delay, and travel time require little explanation. The term “freight-significant highways” requires some description, however.

Technical Appropriateness

All three of these measures are technically appropriate as indicators of freight performance in relation to the highway system. The concept of the freight-significant highway is intended to link highway performance more closely with freight performance.  Without the connection to freight-significant highways they would be measures of overall highway-system performance, but would not tell much about the performance of the system as a freight carrier. If certain stretches of the NHS can be identified, in some way, as road segments with particular significance for freight carriage, then these speed and delay indicators would have real value as freight performance-measures. Incident-based delay is especially important for trucking firms as this is the component of transit time that is most difficult to predict.

In both conceptual and data terms, the greatest challenge in developing these measures would be the identification of the freight-significant highways. FHWA would have to develop a method

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