National Academies Press: OpenBook

Freight Data Cost Elements (2013)

Chapter: Chapter 1 - Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Freight Data Cost Elements. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21939.
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3 NCFRP Project 26, “Freight Data Cost Elements,” had the following objectives: • Identify the specific types of direct freight transportation cost data elements required for public investment, policy, and regulatory decisionmaking; and • Describe and assess different strategies for identifying and obtaining these cost data elements. Although these objectives could include such aspects as logistics costs, cost of externalities produced by freight activ- ity, and the like, the project panel—considering the state of the practice and knowledge, as well as the project resources available—decided to focus on direct operational costs and the data cost items needed for their estimation. The movement of goods is largely conducted by private- sector businesses for customers that are also private-sector businesses. Accordingly, cost and rate information often is confidential to these organizations. However, an understand- ing of costs is essential for public-sector analyses, investments, and policy development. To achieve the project objectives, the research team focused on four tasks: • Task 1: Identify and describe the state of the practice for current multimodal freight transportation cost data uses, sources, methods, collection strategies, and data elements for public-sector planning and decisionmaking. • Task 2: Identify current and evolving public-sector freight transportation planning and decisionmaking functions and the cost data currently used, or that might be used, to support those functions. Describe the key freight transpor- tation cost data elements required for public-sector plan- ning and decisionmaking. • Task 3: Identify primary and secondary freight transpor- tation cost data sources and assess their applicability to the key requirements identified in Task 2. Discuss data issues and limitations, including data accuracy, privacy, anti-trust issues and other constraints, as well as conceptual collection strategies. Discuss methods for closing any identified gaps. • Task 4: Identify available cost estimation tools, methods, and procedures, and their applicability to the key require- ments identified in Task 3. Discuss strengths and weak- nesses and identify methods for closing any gaps. NCFRP Report 22 summarizes the key findings that emerged from each of these tasks, and provides an important compen- dium of the available cost data (along with sources), alterna- tives that can be used when cost data do not exist, and areas where additional data collection would be beneficial. The report consists of five chapters that describe the fun- damentals of freight cost estimation and its use, analyze cur- rent and future public-sector functions and cost data needs, estimate future cost data needs for the public sector, iden- tify and assess the various freight cost data sources, address freight cost data gaps, and provide conclusions and recom- mendations. Three appendices are included with the report. Appendix A presents the basic cost concepts and definitions. Appendix B shows the cost data elements for the various modes of freight transportation. Appendix C shows the dif- ferent data collection techniques and frequencies suggested to close data gaps. C H A P T E R 1 Introduction

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TRB’s National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) Report 22: Freight Data Cost Elements identifies the specific types of direct freight transportation cost data elements required for public investment, policy, and regulatory decisionmaking. The report also describes and assesses different strategies for identifying and obtaining the needed cost data elements.

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