News | METRANS Receives $3.7 Million Grant to Study Challenges of Urban Freight

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METRANS Receives $3.7 Million Grant to Study Challenges of Urban Freight

Sunday, September 1, 2013

By Megan Goulding and Merrill Balassone, USC

The new center aims to streamline the flow of goods through city centers and improve traffic congestion, air quality and urban livability.

The Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) awarded METRANS a $3.7 million grant to establish a Center of Excellence in urban freight research.

The center, called METROFREIGHT, will research ways to streamline the transportation, handling and storage of goods in city centers, while working to reduce the impact on traffic congestion, air quality and urban livability.

"Urban freight contributes to congestion, competes with passengers for scarce road and rail space, and negatively affects the livability of metro areas," said METRANS director Genevieve Giuliano. "We aim to develop a better understanding of urban freight problems and develop effective, sustainable and implementable strategies for solving these problems."

METROFREIGHT is a VREF Center of Excellence with university partners in Los Angeles/Long Beach, New York, Paris, and Seoul, Korea.

The new Center's research priorities include:

Reducing congestion and heavy truck traffic: In Los Angeles, New York, and Paris, local truck deliveries account for about 1/6 of all urban traffic. The Center will conduct research on how potential solutions such as the consolidation of freight across firms or evening and night deliveries can be implemented.

Improving air quality: In the Los Angeles region, about half of all particulate emissions are from freight, and diesel particulate emissions are a significant pollution source in cities around the world. The Center will explore methods for increasing efficiency of freight movements and the potential for cleaner fuel vehicles.

Understanding patterns of location and behavior: The Center will examine trends in the location of logistics and manufacturing facilities, and in consumer and producer behavior, such as the growth of e-commerce. The purpose is to better understand demand for freight deliveries and how they may best be managed.

The METROFREIGHT team includes Maged Dessouky, professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering; and Petros Ioannou, professor of Electrical Engineering, both from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. California State University Long Beach (CSULB) team members include Seiji Steimetz, associate professor of Economics, and Thomas O'Brien, CITT's director of research. O'Brien will coordinate METROFREIGHT's professional education efforts: courses for industry and policy makers that can be adapted to the needs of all center partners and a curriculum guide for faculty looking to develop urban freight coursework. "In addition to building a global network of scholars, this award will enable the center to contribute to the field more broadly by widely disseminating data, information, results, and education materials on the challenges of urban freight," says team member Thomas O'Brien.

About the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations
The Volvo Research and Educational Foundations are comprised of four foundations that collaborate to finance research and education in the areas of transportation, environment and energy. Through the Foundations' "Future of Urban Transportation" program, VREF seeks to develop urban transport systems that will provide accessibility for the masses, while at the same time radically reducing transportation's negative local and global environmental impacts.