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.

California’s new fee on hazardous railroad shipments being challenged by railroads

California’s new fee on rail deliveries of certain hazardous chemicals, including crude oil, is being challenged in federal court. The new state regulation, set to take effect this year, requires railroad companies to collect a $45 fee from their customers for each rail car carrying any one of 25 hazardous materials into the state. The funds are to help the state pay for improvements to its emergency response capabilities so it can better respond to spills resulting from train derailments.

Breathe easy: Sleep apnea and transportation safety

In a step towards establishing rules specific to obstructive sleep apnea—a condition that can cause daytime drowsiness and reduced reaction time—the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Rail Administration have issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address the challenge of finding a balance between government’s interest in protecting public safety on highways and the industry’s workforce concerns about the ability of truckers to earn a living.

Mobile apps gaining ground in trucking

Rapid growth in the use of mobile apps is changing the trucking business and could bring congestion reduction benefits as well as efficiency gains. The way truckers with empty trailers find available loads has come a long way from notes on truck stop bulletin boards. The flexibility brought by these applications also provides a backup when scheduled movements are disrupted.

Megaships may be approaching their maximum size

According to the Journal of Commerce, the size of the world’s largest container vessels has increased more than sixfold since 1975 and is expected to grow an additional 13 percent by 2020. While these larger ships can be operated by small crews and use less fuel per container than smaller ships, there are a number of costs that come with these larger vessels, including increased risk, port infrastructure costs, and congestion.