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167247-1 Report Abstract

Freight Data Needs at the Metropolitan Level and the Suitability of Intelligent Transportation Systems in Supplying MPOs with the Needed Freight Data

Isabel C. Victoria and C. Michael Walton, University of Texas at Austin, December 2004, 173 pp. (167247-1)

Many Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) have identified the lack of robust and accurate freight data as a major constraint in conducting meaningful freight planning. An in-depth literature review was conducted that covered (1) the most relevant freight issues faced by MPOs, (2) the state-of-the-art methodologies used in urban travel demand forecasting to integrate the passenger and freight components, (3) primary and secondary freight data sources and their strengths and limitations for supporting urban planning activities, and (4) the full spectrum of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies that are considered rich sources of freight data. A Freight Data Needs Survey was administered to U.S. MPOs to assess urban freight data needs given the demographic characteristics of the region, the freight issues MPOs have to deal with, the state-of-the-practice in integrating the freight component into the urban travel demand models (TDMs), freight collection activities at the metropolitan region, the level of deployment of ITS technologies, and the use of archived ITS data to support urban planning activities. Special emphasis was given to cargo data, freight transportation modes data, and terminal/intermodal transfer facilities data because they provide valuable insight into urban freight movements. The results of the survey revealed that, although two-thirds of the responding MPOs are conducting freight planning, only 26% of them have integrated both the passenger and freight components into their TDMs. Among the responding MPOs, 49% to 94% indicated a need for origin-destination patterns, routing details, shipment details, and commodity type information, while cargo data availability varied from 6% to 46%. The percentage of respondents who indicated a need for highway/truck data, rail data, air data, and water data varied between 51% and 100%, while transportation mode data availability ranged between 0% and 40%. Finally, the percentage of respondents who indicated a need for terminal/intermodal transfer facilities data varied between 82% and 97%, while the availability of this data varied from 3% to 18%. These figures point to the substantial need for freight data, especially among the small, mid-size, and mid-large MPOs. It is thus obvious that effective freight planning and wholly informed decisions are still largely limited by a lack of reliable data. Given a lack of funding sources, primary data collection is also not an option for many small to mid-large MPOs. For the future, these MPOs will have to explore innovative and cost effective means to gather an understanding of freight movements. This study showed that data collected by electronic means such as those provided by ITS can be invaluable to urban freight planning.

Keywords: Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Urban Freight Data Needs, Urban Freight Data Available, Freight Collection Methods, ITS Freight Data, Passenger and Freight Components, Urban Travel Demand Models

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 946 KB)