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Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide (2015)

Chapter: Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process

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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
×
Page 13
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Section 1 - Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22159.
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4The initiatives presented in this Guide represent a wide range of potential solutions to the freight issues typically found in metropolitan areas. They could be used by transportation agency staff to perform two basic functions: (1) management of urban freight traffic—typically short-term efforts conducted by the city/county level Department of Transportation (DOT) or Public Works— and (2) planning of mid-term/long-term improvement exercises of the kind usually undertaken by the local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The initiatives related to the management function are typically small-scale efforts that could be implemented by the local DOT without MPO approval. The initiatives used in the planning function are typically larger in scope and, as such, require a more involved planning process. Although different in scope, these management and planning efforts are meant to complement each other. These initiatives can be proactive or reactive. Compared to the smaller-scale initiatives, the larger ones often need to be implemented in a more proactive way to achieve the intended goal. For example, land use management will be most effective when the freight system has been integrated into the land use planning. Although many different approaches to transportation planning exist (based, for example, on organizational size, resources, and structure), professional planners follow a basic planning process. Accordingly, this section describes the general process of public-sector transportation DM that underpins both management and planning of urban freight systems. It provides details on how each step, and the tasks within, can be used to find solutions to freight issues. It addresses how to integrate the public-sector initiatives into the urban freight transportation DM process to improve the overall performance of the system. By design, the descriptions here are general, as there could be cases where some steps may not be formalized. This section of the Guide is intended not to prescribe a by-the-book methodology, but instead one that is flexible and practical, applicable to a variety of cases and settings. There are many ways to combine, divide, and ultimately describe the various steps in the DM process, and the tasks conducted for each step. The DM process is iterative; each step builds on knowledge gained through other activities, and all of the steps are revisited throughout the process. In transportation DM, virtually every decision or recommended course of action can result in predictable and unpredictable, intended and unintended, immediate and long-term, positive and negative impacts. In most cases, the complex issues facing metropolitan areas have no perfect solutions. This reality forces transportation decision makers to accept compromises that require a proper understanding of the trade-offs involved. In the planning process, such trade-offs should be identified while evaluating and selecting alternatives. The importance of this assessment should not be underestimated. For example, if a transpor- tation agency is considering building a bypass to eliminate congestion within an urban area, there will be trade-offs involved. Local businesses inside the urban area may be negatively impacted S E C T I O N 1 Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process

Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process 5 by a reduction in customers, while the increased access provided by the bypass may result in business relocations from the congested area to nearer the bypass, diminishing the vitality of the urban core. Moreover, given funding limitations, building the bypass may result in other projects not being funded. The DM process typically includes some variation and/or combination of the following steps: 1. Define goals and objectives to be achieved. 2. Define performance measures (measures of success). 3. Identify root causes of the problems. 4. Identify potential initiatives. 5. Conduct performance analysis of potential initiatives. 6. Evaluate (based on identified measures of success) and select preferred alternative(s). 7. Create an Action Plan that: – Describes the preferred alternative, its trade-offs, and related recommendations. – Proposes an approach to implement the recommendations. 8. Implement and monitor the Action Plan. 9. Follow up, reassess, and (when necessary) modify the plan based on received feedback. Each step is formed by a set of tasks that need to be executed to obtain the desired outputs. Such tasks include stakeholder outreach and agency coordination, data collection/information gathering, and assessment and analysis. Figure 1 summarizes the urban freight transportation DM process described in this Guide. Each step of the process is presented with examples of potential activities that could be undertaken while moving through the step. This process is generally consistent with the transportation plan- ning process summarized by FHWA in Integrating Demand Management into the Transportation Planning Process: A Desk Reference (the FHWA Desk Reference), which includes: (1) regional vision and goals; (2) setting objectives; (3) definition of performance measures; (4) assessment and selection of strategies and programs to support objectives; (5), integration of strategies into plans and funding programs; and (6) monitoring and evaluation of progress toward objectives (Federal Highway Administration 2012c). Many procedures, tools, and techniques are similar, and readers can refer to the FHWA Desk Reference for more details. The process described in this section supplements the general transportation planning process described in the FHWA publi- cation by addressing the specific needs of freight transportation management, such as the more complex stakeholder engagement. This process also applies to short-term management efforts. The DM process described in this section can be used for any size geographic area, jurisdic- tion, or specific location (e.g., statewide, regional, metropolitan, or site specific); various types of management and planning exercises (e.g., land use, bicycle, or freight); different challenges and issues (e.g., congestion, safety, or site); and, timeframes of various durations (e.g., short-, medium-, or long-range). At each step in the DM process, tasks (activities) need to be conducted, including stakeholder outreach and agency coordination, data collection, and assessment and analysis. Each task produces a set of outputs, typically used as inputs in subsequent stages. It should be noted that these activities do not take place in a vacuum; the only successful way to foster change is to constructively engage all stakeholders to develop consensus-based strategies. Such a process of engagement is best conducted as part of a suitable process of collaborative DM and partnership. This important aspect underpins successful freight transportation DM as a proper and con- structive process of engagement of the multiple stakeholders involved in freight issues and their potential solutions. Two key factors relate: 1. Multiple stakeholders—private, public, and community—are impacted by freight issues and/ or could potentially play a role in developing their solutions.

6 Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide Figure 1. Urban freight transportation DM process. 2. No single stakeholder is capable of completely solving the most acute freight issues affecting metropolitan areas. Given these two factors, stakeholder cooperation and engagement may be the only means to progress. The main role of such an engagement effort is to create an environment and a management process whereby all stakeholders can be heard and can participate, in a constructive fashion, to improve the freight system. Public-sector agencies are bound to play a key role as conveners of the

Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process 7 effort. Some key stakeholders to bring to the table include large and prominent shippers, carriers, and receivers; the corresponding trade groups that represent key freight agents (local trucking associations, warehouse associations, retail sector groups, restaurant associations, and the like); the local Chamber of Commerce; public agencies with jurisdiction in the areas that impact the freight system; civic or neighborhood groups; researchers who could play a role in both research and outreach; as well as any other companies with the potential to contribute to the solution. Many approaches and techniques are considered effective mechanisms for stakeholder engagement, such as conferences, workshops, and surveys. The FHWA document Engaging the Private Sector in Freight Planning (Wilbur Smith Associates and S. R. Kale Consulting 2009) is one of many documents that could be used to identify strategies and approaches for this step. Definition of Freight Issue to Be Addressed In many situations, the success of a DM process hinges on correct—and consistent— identification of the problem the process is meant to address. At any given time, many freight challenges compete for attention and resources. Too broad a focus may result in overly complicated DM and planning, which makes a successful outcome less certain. Too narrow a focus may result in unsatisfactory allocations of resources, as smaller issues may be addressed while larger but still-feasible challenges remain unsolved. One benefit of engaging stakeholders is that doing so encourages identification and examination of problems from multiple vantage points. The initial engagement of stakeholders and consensus-building efforts help ensure that each problem is carefully vetted, clearly defined, and agreed on so that all parties understand what the DM process will—and will not—address. Identification of Root Cause(s) The task of identifying the root cause of a freight challenge may be the most important part of the DM process. With the root cause identified, a planner/manager can begin to determine the spectrum of potential solutions. On the other hand, the wrong identification can take the entire effort in the wrong direction. It is imperative that the process be as unbiased, objective, and accurate as possible. This is of great relevance in urban freight. Although trucks may be the visible expression of freight activity, the sources of a problem involving trucks may lie elsewhere. For example, truck idling frequently is the result of the inability or unwillingness of receivers to accept deliveries, and the congestion produced in the vicinity of large buildings is frequently aggravated by delivery-time restrictions that shorten the period of time when deliveries can be made. In these situations, fining the drivers or charging higher tolls during peak traffic hours may fail to reduce the congestion because carriers cannot change delivery times without the concurrence of the receivers. Recognizing the chief role played by the receivers (the root cause) leads to a different set of solutions, such as the establishment of appointment systems for deliveries, allowing delivery trucks to use off-street parking spaces, and an off-hour delivery (OHD) program to induce receivers to accept deliver- ies outside regular business hours. The careful identification of the root causes of a problem can help lead to more appropriate, and therefore more effective solutions. The NCFRP Report 14: Guidebook for Understanding Urban Goods Movement provides an effective guideline for planners to understand the movement of different types of goods and how to collect data to evaluate their impacts (Rhodes et al. 2012). Another publication, NCFRP Report 23: Synthesis of Freight Research in Urban Transportation Planning (Giuliano et al. 2013) provides a good starting point for planning staff to get an overview of freight impacts, problems, and existing strategies, and eventually, to identify the root causes.

8 Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide The identification process typically involves technical analyses (e.g., traffic counts, capacity and level-of-service analysis, and travel time and delay studies), and consultations with stakeholders to develop a solid idea about the potential reasons behind the problem. These consultations are very important to provide public-sector professionals, who may lack familiarity with the under- pinnings of the freight system, with insights into real-world cause and effects. Key tasks involved in the identification process are. • Stakeholder outreach and agency coordination. – Agency staff ask stakeholders, decision makers, and the agency leadership to identify what they view as a freight issue, as well as the factors that create it. Involvement at this stage will garner greater understanding and buy-in for the implementation of any ultimate solution. • Data collection, assessment, and analysis. – To minimize the risks of misinformation or being influenced by biased views of an issue, the agency staff seek input from multiple individuals within the same stakeholder group. In-depth interviews with company representatives, focus groups with selected private-sector representatives, and interviews with staff from trade groups provide invaluable information about the root causes of the freight issue. This information is carefully filtered by the agency staff to account for any inherent bias that may be reflected in the opinions offered by some stakeholders. – It is important to collect information to analyze and assess future conditions because issues and problems change over time. This is especially true with freight that is market-driven; new products, technologies, population shifts, and infrastructure changes can alter the way freight is transported. • Generation of outputs. – For each condition or issue of concern, agency staff develop a solid identification of the root causes that produce it and the analyses that support the conclusions. Definition of Goals and Objectives to Be Achieved Defining goals and objectives requires a shared vision among all stakeholders of what the urban freight system, or a specific aspect of it, should be in the short-term, mid-term, and long-term future. It also requires a clear idea of what roles and responsibilities the stakeholders will have in making that vision a reality. Developing such a shared vision requires working with stakeholders to identify their goals based on a clear understanding of (a) the problems and issues that are the focus of the effort and (b) the parameters that characterize the desired future state, or goal(s). For example, a freight goal may be “to reduce congestion to enhance freight mobility.” A more specific description of an aspect or parameter of that goal may be “to improve travel To identify root causes of freight issues faced by the planning agencies, Freight Trip Generation (FTG) software has been created based on models developed by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). The purpose of the FTG software is to recognize and categorize the level of freight trips produced and attracted by a particular study area of interest. A detailed description of how the FTG software works and a link to access the software are provided in the Appendix of this Guide. The careful identification of the root cause of the problem being addressed is the common key success factor in the case studies provided in Section 3.

Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process 9 speeds at key arterials.” Clarifying and defining the goal can delineate it into a series of component objectives. Agency staff can work with stakeholders to help them understand the potential consequences of skipping this critical step. It is important to develop a consensus around the goals and objectives that should guide the effort. This almost always requires the public sector playing a key role in securing the support of the various stakeholders. If stakeholders are negatively impacted or inconvenienced by the goals of the freight initiative, the public sector could consider the use of incentives of various kinds to mitigate these impacts. Tasks involved in defining the goals and objectives to be achieved are: • Stakeholder outreach and agency coordination. – The individuals and groups that will define the goals take steps to include agency leader- ship and public- and private-sector stakeholders. Agency leaders are critical for winning and securing long-term support for the DM process, and the recommendations that may come from it. It is also critical to engage private-sector stakeholders, as they operate the system and could provide invaluable input regarding desirable and not-so-desirable goals and objectives. – Before defining the goals and objectives, the study area needs to be defined, recognizing that supply chains interconnect wide geographic areas. For example, restricting large trucks from entering a congested downtown may force carriers to use a larger number of small trucks—which, in turn, could increase congestion beyond the level that was produced by the large trucks. – In defining the goals and objectives, it is important to maintain ongoing interactions with all stakeholders. As the planning process proceeds, goals and objectives evolve and become more specific. Throughout the DM process, stakeholder positions, perceptions, and recom- mendations may change as more information becomes available and stakeholders gain a better understanding of each other’s positions and concerns. • Data collection/information gathering. – Data and information explaining current conditions helps stakeholders formulate goals and objectives. For example, traffic counts estimating the number and percent of trucks and passenger vehicles could be important to develop an unbiased idea of the relative role of each as contributors to congestion. – Ideally, information is gathered from all stakeholders, as different groups will view problems and define goals from their own perspectives. For example, the public may perceive the problem as being too many trucks on a roadway, whereas truckers may perceive the problem as being too many passenger vehicles, and railroads may perceive the problem as not having enough rail access. • Assessment and analysis. – All goals and objectives are reviewed to confirm that they are reasonable given constraints of time, budget, environment, and regulations in place. For example, a goal to drastically reduce the number of trucks in an area may not be realistic without sufficient funding to provide alternative freight transport modes. When the goals and objectives are drafted, it is important to present them to the agency leadership and to public- and private-sector stakeholders to confirm that (a) they are appropriate and (b) they address all relevant issues and concerns. Additional information about existing and future conditions, as well as the opinions and perspectives of other stakeholders, may help in the review, refinement, and finalization of objectives. • Generation of outputs. – Outputs from this task are a set of goals and objectives, agreed upon by all stakeholders, that will clearly specify the desired future state of the system. The objectives should follow the SMART criteria; that is, they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (Federal Highway Administration 2012c).

10 Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide Definition of Performance Measures Performance measures (PMs) are an important aspect of the DM process and are central to gauging the degree to which goals and objectives are achieved. During the planning stage, PMs are used to screen and select a preferred solution from among the possible alternatives. Once a solution has been implemented, PMs provide a method to evaluate the level of success that was attained in achieving intended goals. With the passage of the latest transportation authorization (PL 112-141, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, called MAP-21, performance measurement has become a popular topic in transportation planning. Although MAP-21 requires the undertaking of systemic performance measurements, when this Guide refers to measuring performance, it particularly refers to measuring specific outcomes of interventions taken. These could range from a modeling result to more tangible data points such as safety, parking, use of alternative fuels, or reliability. PMs can be defined in numerous ways, but practice shows that they work best when they are: (1) directly related to a single objective; (2) easily quantifiable; (3) able to gauge the entire range of levels of achievement (a PM that is defined as a continuous variable is better than one that takes only two values, like “achieved” or “not achieved”). Chapter 3 in the FHWA Desk Refer- ence also provides a detailed list of PMs that can be used for various objectives (Federal Highway Administration 2012c). Tasks involved in defining PMs are: • Stakeholder outreach and agency coordination – Different stakeholders are likely to have different ideas about what PMs should be used, and how to measure them. For example, the delivery costs paid by receivers may be a good metric to measure the objective of “increasing the competitiveness of downtown.” However, freight carriers may argue that delivery costs do not account for the full cost of a delivery given that carriers, typically, absorb parking fines and tolls due to the competitive pressures of the market. – Respecting the confidential nature of commercially sensitive data is crucial. Many useful PMs—such as the full cost of delivery just mentioned—could require the use of data that carriers may refuse to share, such as driver wages, indirect costs, and fringe benefits. Engaging private-sector associations and trade groups could enable the public sector to create solid cost estimates for use as input to the PMs. Gaining stakeholder support in the process of defining the PMs, and securing the corresponding input data, are essential. • Data collection – PMs are by definition quantitative, and thus require data on the existing or base conditions and/or, in the case of planning efforts, estimates of their future values. Producing such estimates requires the use of planning models and/or simulations. It is suggested that freight planning staff work closely with the modelers at the MPO/state DOT to ensure that the available models can produce the desired PMs. If the models are not capable of providing the necessary PMs, either the PMs must be redefined to suit what the models can provide, or the models must be modified to provide the desired PMs. Careful consideration is needed to determine whether adjusting the PMs or adjusting the models will yield the most applicable and useful data. – Freight PMs may require data from all modes of transportation, and may include analysis of safety, mobility, system conditions, pavement conditions, travel times, congestion, accessibility, parking, or environmental conditions related to freight movements. – Freight data availability often is an issue in defining PMs. Engaging stakeholders in the definition of PMs and, at the same time, securing their support to get the necessary input data, can mitigate the data availability issue considerably.

Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process 11 • Assessment and analysis – PMs are used at several steps in the management and planning processes, such as to assess the base case conditions surrounding a freight issue, and to compare the results of the assessment to conditions in other jurisdictions. Such comparisons provide context to PMs that may otherwise be difficult to interpret. – PM analyses must account for such important factors as the variability of the input data used; the time it takes to collect the data and update the PMs; and the sensitivity (or lack thereof) of the PM to changes in the input variables. For example, PMs that use highly variable data (e.g., travel times), need to be analyzed with caution to ensure the robustness of the results. A PM that relies on data collected every 2 or 3 years will fail to capture rapidly changing conditions, whereas a PM that is too sensitive, or too insensitive, may be difficult to analyze. All of these factors need to be taken into account. Adjustments may be needed to the definitions of the PMs and the necessary input data to ensure that the PMs adequately fulfill their roles. • Generation of outputs – Outputs from this task are: � A set of PMs that assess the degree to which goals and objectives are achieved at different points in time. � A data collection and/or modeling plan to assess the PMs. � A collaboration agreement that outlines the role and responsibility of each of the various stakeholders in providing data as needed to estimate the PMs. Preliminary Identification of Potential Initiatives This step addresses how to select, from the wide spectrum of initiatives described in the Guide, those that are most likely to be effective in solving a freight issue. Clearly, detailed planning and design exercises offer the best chance of identifying the most appropriate solutions to a freight issue. No guide can offer an estimation of the specific costs and benefits produced by a given initiative, or an assessment of the trade-offs inherent in the allocation of time required and the limited funding available. These factors are best reviewed through a formal DM process. The Guide provides an initiative identification process, an approach designed to match needs- on-the-ground with a range of strategies, and a fuller picture of what those strategies can offer. The impacts of the various initiatives have been characterized in terms of the nature of the problem they are intended to mitigate or solve; the geographic and temporal scope of the impacts; and the target population(s). Before considering which potential initiatives will best match their needs, transportation professionals will specify the following inputs: • Nature of the Problem to Be Solved: Clearly identify the problem that needs solving and the rationale for a public-sector initiative. Examples include congestion, pollution, noise produced by causes other than congestion, and conflicts between truck activity and other users. • Geographic Scope of the Problem: Identify the area(s) where the problem occurs in order to define the scope of the necessary public-sector initiative. Examples include citywide, area, corridor, or a point in the city. • Primary Source of the Problem: Confirm whether the problem is produced by freight activity, then determine which segment of the industry is responsible. Examples include all or through- traffic, large traffic generators (LTGs), urban deliveries, large trucks, or specific industry segments. • Duration of the Problem: Define the time/duration of the problem. Examples include a peak hour, a peak period lasting several hours, daytime, nighttime, or an entire 24-hour period. Once these inputs have been defined (most come from the outputs generated by the tasks described so far in this section), the initiative summary tables presented in Section 2 in this

12 Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide Guide can be used to help identify possible alternatives. Then public-sector decision makers, stakeholders, and transportation agencies can conduct detailed assessments of each initiative’s pros and cons, with data relevant to their situation, to identify the most appropriate course of action. Tasks involved in identifying potential initiatives are: • Stakeholder outreach and agency coordination – Agency staff work with all stakeholders to confirm that all alternative solutions have been identified. If an alternative advocated by a stakeholder is not considered, even if that alter- native does not prove entirely realistic or feasible, the selected approach may not garner the stakeholder’s commitment. • Data collection – Agency staff become familiar with the general features of the potential initiatives: advantages and disadvantages, political issues and constraints, applicability to local conditions, and so forth. Given that all of these elements will need to be considered at some point, it makes sense to start gathering information on each element early in the DM process. – The Appendix provides an initial list of data collection needs and assessment tasks that may be associated with the potential initiatives recommended in this Guide. The list is organized based on the major groups identified in the Guide. • Assessment and analyses – Agency staff and stakeholders analyze the data collected to determine which initiatives are worthy of further consideration in the formulation phase. It is important to consider the widest range of potential initiatives during the formulation phase; only alternatives with virtually no chance of implementation should be eliminated from further analyses. – The initiatives suggested are analyzed to ensure that, as a whole, they support each other rather than conflict with each other or with any other needed transportation project. For example, redesigning an intersection to facilitate truck traffic could make a bicycle path impossible if the intersection is not designed with the bicycle path in mind. An intersection redesign that makes sense by itself may be counterproductive from a corridor point of view if it creates problems at other intersections downstream. With a broader analysis, comprehensive corridor-level solutions may make more sense than a single intersection redesign. – Transportation decision makers also need to be mindful of the long timeframes involved in many public-sector interventions, versus the shorter private-sector DM process that is driven by quarterly results. Because of this paradox, public-sector planners often must consider implementing short-term solutions while the correct long-term solution is being developed (e.g., relocation of some constraints like utility poles). As part of NCFRP Project 38, the research team created an Initiative Selector decision-support system as a tool to aid in the selection of possible alternatives for various metropolitan freight problems. The Initiative Selector is an HTML webpage that, for a given set of inputs, provides practitioners with suggestions about possible initiatives that could be implemented to fix a given problem. The Initiative Selector is by no means a replacement for engineering and planning; rather, it offers possible solutions that might be considered for various situations. The Initiative Selector can be found at http://coe-sufs.org/wordpress/InitiativeSelector/. An expanded description is provided in the Appendix.

Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process 13 • Generation of outputs – Outputs from this task are a preliminary list of potential initiatives to address the freight issues to be solved or mitigated, along with descriptions of the initiatives under consideration, a qualitative assessment of their advantages and disadvantages, and an identification of the potential synergies to take advantage of, and/or conflicts to be avoided. Formulation and Performance Analysis of Solution Alternatives In this step of the DM process, agency staff further develop the potential initiatives identified so that both decision makers and the wide spectrum of stakeholders have a thorough appreciation of their potential impacts. For example, an initiative to reduce truck double-parking in a busy downtown area is the implementation of a delivery appointment system to ensure that delivery trucks are able to find off-street parking. As part of the formulation phase, important questions must be answered: What size buildings would be the focus of the initiative? Would the system be required, or encouraged? Would incentives be provided? If so, in what amounts? What geo- graphic area would be the focus? What impacts would be produced by the initiative? The answers to these questions provide a fuller view of the benefits, costs, and level of effort associated with the initiative(s). Such information, both qualitative and quantitative, provides a solid foundation for DM. In estimating the performance of the various initiatives it is important to be thorough but pragmatic. Essentially, the data collection and performance analysis need to be commensurate with the scope and potential impact of each initiative. The FHWA Desk Reference provides a detailed discussion of the process, tools, and techniques that can be used to analyze the performance of traffic management strategies (Federal Highway Administration 2012c). The behavioral micro- simulation model (Silas and Holguín-Veras 2009) and the freight demand estimation model (Holguín-Veras and Aros-Vera 2014) are specifically helpful for analyzing alternatives involving freight demand management. However, large data collection and modeling exercises are best reserved for only the largest and most impactful projects. Tasks involved in formulation and performance analysis of solution alternatives are: • Data collection – Data are collected that relate to each possible alternative. The data collected include cost, time and effort required for implementation, complexity, and potential risks and benefits. – Agency staff lead a process to provide a clear picture of what each initiative would entail. Doing this allows an understanding of the full spectrum of impacts, including what will be required from the transportation agencies and all stakeholders for a successful implementation. • Assessment and analysis – Agency staff assess the key impacts of the various alternatives. Traffic simulation models could be used to assess the local impacts of proposed initiatives (e.g., to assess how a new land use policy would impact freight traffic volumes, a regional planning model could be used to get a general idea about regional congestion impacts). These modeling endeavors are designed to ensure a reasonably solid understanding of the behavioral changes that a proposed public-sector initiative could induce. Possible methods include in-depth interviews with selected industry representatives, focus groups, or stated preference surveys. Guessing how the freight industry would react to any given initiative is a significant challenge, so outreach to those industry sectors that would be impacted is highly advisable. Projected unintended impacts of the alternatives (e.g., traffic increases in sensitive areas due to adding an extra lane or population shifts from building a bypass) need to be identified and evaluated.

14 Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide – Additional assessments of budget, staffing, and timing for the selected alternatives may be needed. For example, before recommending an OHD program, it is advisable to check with the private sector to determine the feasibility of the idea. • Generation of outputs – Outputs from this task are: � Clear and solid descriptions of the initiatives being considered, together with technical assessments of their potential impacts. � Preliminary conclusions concerning the merit of each initiative. Evaluation and Selection of Preferred Alternative(s) The process of evaluating and selecting alternatives involves judging how each alternative would meet the goals and objectives defined in prior tasks. Too many evaluation and selection techniques exist to be reviewed in this Guide; however, These techniques can be broadly classi- fied into two categories: (1) economic and (2) multi-criteria. Economic techniques transform meaningful impacts into monetary values as costs or benefits. Non-market impacts, such as environment-related impacts, are translated into monetary estimates using economic valuation techniques (Bateman et al. 2002). The benefits and costs produced during the project’s economic lifespan are taken into account to produce economic indicators of performance such as net present value, internal rate of return, and benefit/cost ratio. Multi-criteria techniques do not translate impacts into monetary units. This category of evaluation techniques often makes use of a matrix to compare the performance of each alternative with respect to identified objectives. If quantitative PMs have been produced, these can be placed in the corresponding criteria cells. If only qualitative analyses are available, agency staff try to make sure the estimates are as objective and unbiased as possible. The performance of each alter- native usually is summarized according to the selected measures via colors, codes, or key words that explain the results depicted in the matrix, making it understandable to decision makers. An example of an alternatives comparison matrix can be found online at http://www.warner.nh.us/ downloads/Rt103/WarnerRoute103ComparisonMatrix.pdf (Warner Town 2013). Tasks involved in the evaluation and selection of preferred alternatives are: • Stakeholder outreach and agency coordination – Public and private stakeholders need to be actively involved in the evaluation and rating of alternatives for several reasons: � They may rate one decision criteria as more important than the others. � Stakeholder agreement on the evaluation is needed to ensure their long-term support and to advance implementation of the initiative. � The agency leaders, not the agency staff conducting the analyses, will be the decision makers. – Planners usually recommend and explain the trade-offs among alternatives, as well as the consequences of inaction, to the actual decision makers. Group problem-solving processes, such as the Delphi method to prioritize and select the highest priority projects or initiatives (Linstone and Turoff 2002), and the nominal group technique (Delbecq et al. 1975), can be used to facilitate the coordination of stakeholder rating. • Data collection – It is important to ensure that the stakeholders participating in the DM process provide specific information about the level of importance they attach to each of the various decision criteria, and that a consensus is reached about these valuations of importance. It is highly advisable to conduct such an exercise before the actual evaluation process takes place, as this reduces the possibility of any manipulation of the process to favor specific alternatives.

Urban Freight Transportation Decision-Making Process 15 – During the evaluation of alternatives, it may be necessary to supplement data/information collected to provide stakeholders with information about the alternatives that they need to make decisions. • Assessment and analysis – Because of the trade-offs involved, often there is no clear best alternative. In such cases, it is important to get input from stakeholders about the relative importance of the different decision criteria, as this will help the selection process. • Generation of outputs – Outputs from this task are a prioritized list of the alternatives to be recommended for implementation, together with estimates of the time and resources required, responsible agency and/or stakeholders, and any other information deemed useful to be included in the Action Plan. Creation of Action Plan An Action Plan that defines the recommended policies, programs, processes, and improve- ments to be conducted is one of the key products of the planning process. Tasks involved in the creation of the Action Plan are: • Stakeholder outreach and agency coordination – Plans typically are presented in draft form to stakeholders, advisory groups, and agency leadership for review and comment prior to finalization. This would be true of any freight plan, and is recommended for plans based on any of the initiatives identified in this Guide. • Data collection – Agency staff collect information on the reactions to the draft plan to gather support and address any outstanding issues. – In the case of alternatives that require engineering design, additional data may need to be collected to support the design process. • Assessment and analysis – Recurring concerns about the plan are noted and addressed. – Engineering designs may be needed for some initiatives. Agency staff ensure that the design teams have access to the data and design parameters needed. – Pilot tests could be planned to gain insight into the practicality and potential benefits and costs of proposed initiatives. • Generation of outputs – Outputs from this task are: � A list of prioritized initiatives to be considered for implementation. � A plan of specific actions needed to implement these initiatives, including:  Sequencing  Key success factors  Key actors and critical partners in each action  Resources (time, facilities, equipment, and funding)  Timeline for completion  Plan and timeline for measuring the performance of the Action Plan Pilot Testing and Implementation The fundamental reason to conduct the urban freight DM process outlined in this Guide is to address specific freight issues by implementing policies, programs, or projects that could mitigate or eliminate the issues. Ideally, implementation of a public-sector initiative should proceed only

16 Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide when the agency staff is certain that it is the best course of action. Such certainty necessitates careful assessment of the input provided by all stakeholders. In some cases, pilot testing of a novel concept may be highly advisable. Pilot testing, particularly in urban freight management, could play a key role in demonstrat- ing to the private sector that the public sector is interested in proceeding carefully with the implementation of new ideas, assessing the real-life impacts of potential initiatives, and imple- menting only those that successfully pass the pilot tests. Pilot tests provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to find out more about an initiative and mechanism so that they can decide whether to (a) move ahead with a full implementation phase or (b) stop. To fulfill that role, however, pilot tests need to be properly designed; a poorly designed pilot could lead to either a false success (a bad idea that performs well in the pilot), or a false failure (a good idea that does not perform well in the pilot). Follow-up: Reassessment and Modification Planning is a process that should be continuous, given that problems, issues, and needs in any region continually change. FHWA defines “monitoring and evaluation of progress toward objectives” as the last step of a transportation planning process, and describes several examples of successful monitoring programs in the United States and Europe (Federal Highway Admin- istration 2012c). MAP-21 highlights the importance of freight and encourages the development of PMs to determine the impacts of the strategies, programs, and funding used to address freight issues. Agency staff need to continually revisit and reassess freight strategies—both those recom- mended and those in place—to determine what is working and what may need to be adjusted to successfully improve the performance of the freight transportation system. In urban freight, it is important to conduct honest and timely follow-up of programs and initiatives because an erroneous course of action can have long-lasting consequences to the vitality of the local private sector, and by extension, to the economy. The benefits of follow-up and reassessment are similar to those for pilot testing. Both testing and follow-up convey to the private sector that the public sector is interested in careful consideration of the impacts of their initiatives. Also, it is said that “success breeds success.” Being able to demonstrate the success of freight initiatives that have been recommended and implemented helps build support for future initiatives. If properly conducted, follow-up and reassessment foster an environment in which public and private-sector involvement is ongoing; then proactive freight planning can prosper.

Next: Section 2 - Overview of Public-Sector Initiatives »
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TRB’s National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) Report 33: Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas: A Planning Guide outlines potential strategies and practical solutions for public and private stakeholders to improve freight movement system performance in diverse metropolitan areas.

The report includes links to an Initiative Selector tool to aid in the selection of possible alternatives for various problems, and Freight Trip Generation (FTG) software that planners can use to identify main locations where freight is an issue. A brochure summarizing the report and tools is also available.

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