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MEASURING IMPROVEMENTS IN THE MOVEMENT OF - page 9 / 60

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Measuring Improvements in the Movement of Highway and Intermodal Freight

delivery early in the morning and pickups late in the afternoon, pressuring delivery services to be on the roads during congested peak hours and to move goods as quickly as possible. Transit time also affects the costs of shipping goods, which is important for shippers. As a result, efforts to reduce traffic congestion and bottlenecks are very important for freight movers. Travel time measures are also generally easy to understand. Currently available data streams, however, do not provide information on actual travel times. Travel time would have to be measured directly at selected sites.

A weakness occurs when it comes to developing indicators that are specific to freight but not too narrowly focused. Indicators such as “average travel time in peak period in major metro areas” and “percent of PM peak travel experiencing delay” are general mobility measures that address both freight and passenger traffic. On the other hand, measures that focus on specific freight bottlenecks, such as border crossings and toll plazas, are limited because they focus on a very small portion of total freight travel. In order for a travel time indicator to be most useful as a national indicator, specific routes of importance to freight or point-to-point combinations need to be identified.

Average Travel Time

Using a measure of average travel time requires identifying specific point-to-point (or city-to-city) combinations to examine. Point-to-point transit time directly addresses what is important to freight movers. It accounts for the full range of components of travel time, including time on the road, in intermodal transfers, and at toll plazas. Although many companies maintain such data and have their own targets, these data may not be readily available (this issue will be explored further in Task 2).

Time at Border Crossings, Weigh Stations, and Toll Plazas

International border crossings are of particular importance to international freight; as such, they are important from a national perspective. This indicator is limited, however, because it only addresses a portion of total freight traffic. Measures like hours spent waiting at weigh stations or toll plazas are also limited and are less relevant from a national perspective.

Hours of Delay

An “hours of delay” measure focuses on “excess” travel time associated with incident-based or recurring congestion. The measure would be limited as a freight measure if data are only available for total traffic delays. Much of traffic delay is associated with commuter traffic during peak periods and freight traffic may be scheduled to avoid much of this delay.  

Reliability Measures

Indicators of reliability include:

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hours of incident-based delay

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ratio of variance to average minutes per trip in peak periods in major metro areas

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