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Measuring Improvements in the Movement of Highway and Intermodal Freight

This symposium provides a good overview of issues associated with measuring freight productivity. This effort, however, focused on performance of the transportation industry with generally little relation to the performance of the highway system. As a result, some of the measures identified in the symposium are not strong measures of freight performance as it relates to the highway system. For example, measures such as average load per truck and percent of empty vehicle miles have more to do with logistics and efficiency of schedules than the condition of the transportation system.

Other performance measures suggested at the symposium relate indirectly to highway condition and capacity. For example, energy consumption per ton-mile would be affected by highway quality (as well as other factors like the size of trucks). The condition of the highway system would also have some effect on annual miles per truck and labor cost, since both could be affected by speed.

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