Ecommerce fulfillment centers increasing freight pollution, congestion in rural towns

In order to keep up with ever-increasing ecommerce demand, companies such as Amazon are building sprawling new fulfillment centers on the outer edges of major U.S. metro areas to aid in their logistical operations. While these warehouses can provide a windfall in economic development for the rural towns where they are being constructed, a recent article found that, increasingly, communities are finding these facilities are more trouble than they’re worth. Specifically, the jobs and tax revenue being generated don’t outweigh negative impacts caused by freight pollution and traffic congestion.

Will advances in autonomous technology degrade job quality in the trucking industry?

While advances in autonomous technology may net additional jobs in the trucking sector, without thoughtful public policy and a commitment to equitable private practices, they may end up being some of the worst the industry has to offer, and come at the expense of jobs at the higher-end of the pay spectrum, so says a new report by University of Pennsylvania researcher Steve Viscelli.

Many variables in play as deadline for maritime fuel sulfur reduction approaches

Maritime shipping remains the most efficient way to transport goods, considering its weight to fuel-economy ratio. Still, an average container ship running on typical high-sulfur fuel emits nearly the same amount of sulfur oxides (SOx) as 10 million diesel passenger cars. By some counts shipping contributes over 5 percent of global sulfur emissions. Beginning in January 2020, the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) is requiring the maritime industry to reduce the sulfur content of its fuels from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent, in an effort to reduce SOx, particulates, and other pollution.

Many variables in play as deadline for maritime fuel sulfur reduction approaches

Maritime shipping remains the most efficient way to transport goods, considering its weight to fuel-economy ratio. Still, an average container ship running on typical high-sulfur fuel emits nearly the same amount of sulfur oxides (SOx) as 10 million diesel passenger cars. By some counts shipping contributes over 5 percent of global sulfur emissions. Beginning in January 2020, the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) is requiring the maritime industry to reduce the sulfur content of its fuels from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent, in an effort to reduce SOx, particulates, and other pollution.

Washington State bill will require trucks serving ports to be cleaner

The Washington State legislature and the ports of Tacoma and Seattle are struggling to balance the air quality and health concerns of neighborhoods close to port facilities with protests from independent truckers who cannot afford to upgrade their equipment. The deadline to require all trucks serving the port to have newer, cleaner engines has twice been extended. Other states have tried to set rules for clean engines, with varying degrees of success.

Cleaning up the commercial diesel truck industry

In 2011, U.S. EPA and NHTSA established a national program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set new fuel efficiency standards for commercial vehicles starting in 2014. The requirements of this program are a driving force that is causing manufacturers to advance diesel technologies to achieve more environmentally sustainable outcomes, and they are starting to pay off.

Reducing traffic congestion in cities by delivering goods at night

Shifting store, restaurant, and other business deliveries to nighttime hours could reduce traffic congestion within cities. A study conducted in Stockholm, Sweden, has found that scheduling deliveries to businesses during off-peak (night) times can reduce congestion within a city. Large freight vehicles travelling through urban cores and parking on streets while unloading goods adds to traffic congestion. In addition, traffic congestion cost U.S. trucking companies $63.4 billion in 2015. However, Stockholm is a unique city because it bans truck deliveries between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., intended to reduce noise in the city during the night.

Death by a thousand trucks: Managing urban freight congestion

As urban residents place orders for online goods with increasing frequency, the challenge of managing urban freight deliveries grows. City street networks—designed for transit, walking, and biking—are unable to handle this level of freight traffic. Cities, freight haulers, and developers will need to develop new policies and land use strategies to manage this inflow of truck traffic as the retail economy continues to shift to an online/delivery paradigm.

Maybe urban truck traffic isn’t rising after all

One of our posts from last year, which raised the possibility that we may be in the midst of a major increase in urban truck traffic—and the analysis by the Brookings Institution on which it was based—was recently called out as flawed in a blog post by Joe Cortright of City Observatory. Cortright’s criticism is rooted in what he believes is a faulty analysis of FHWA data.