Stop the Video



Freight movement is essential for the functioning of metropolitan areas, yet it generates congestion, air pollution, noise, and greenhouse gas emissions.  Due to complex and globalized supply chains, changing consumer and business preferences, and the rise of e-commerce, the volume of freight moving within and across metropolitan areas is increasing around the world.

Solving urban freight problems is challenging for three reasons.  First, traditional approaches to urban sustainability take little account of freight, and basic sustainability principles – mixed land use, higher density development, emphasis on public transport and non-motorized modes – are in conflict with efficient freight movement.  Second, freight famously “has no borders,” as metro areas are part of the global economic network.  Local governments have little influence on the basic drivers of freight flows, yet local communities bear many of the associated problems.  Third, national governments determine trade policy, and often have jurisdictional authority on commercial freight, further limiting local government authority. MetroFreight seeks to develop innovative strategies to manage urban freight and its impacts that are transferable to metropolitan areas around the world.

MetroFreight (MF) is a consortium led by the METRANS Transportation Center and housed at the University of Southern California.   The consortium members include:

  1. METRANS Transportation Center, a two university multidisciplinary transportation research center comprised of USC and California State University, Long Beach;
  2. University Transportation Research Center (URTC), a consortium of 17 universities in the New York Region, housed at City College of New York (CCNY);
  3. French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks (IFFSTAR) at University of Paris-Est, in Paris;
  4. Korea Transport Institute (KOTI) in Seoul.

MetroFreight is a Volvo Research and Educational Foundations Center of Excellence (CoE) It was established in 2013 as a CoE on urban freight, and is one of ten VREF CoEs in five regions of the world.

The VREF CoE offers the opportunity to build a large scale, international research enterprise on urban freight, using the VREF funding to leverage support from other grants and contributions.

  • MetroFreight is structured as a long-term program of research, education and dissemination.
  • We seek to understand the drivers of urban freight flows, as well as the nature of the problems they generate. 
  • We seek to develop solutions that are collaborative and integrative with larger sustainability goals.
  • We have organized the CoE as an academic/practitioner partnership, with non-academic partners engaged in all aspects of CoE activities.
  • The MetroFreight team is multidisciplinary, with particular strength in planning and public policy.
  • We focus on a small number of case study metro areas – Los Angeles, New York, Paris, and Seoul – using a comparative case study approach.

A cornerstone of VREF policy is that the research shall aim to influence the development of transportation systems that are sustainable and accessible for all.  Therefore, the connections to education and stakeholders in each local environment are important aspects of planned research programs.

Vision and Mission

Our vision is to become the global leader in urban freight research, education and outreach, establishing urban freight as a recognized field of international study, building a global network of scholars, and contributing more broadly by widely disseminating data, information, results, and education materials.

Our mission is to develop solutions for urban freight problems that are collaborative and integrative with larger sustainability goals.