MetroFreight

2.2a <p>Impacts of Environmental Access Restrictions on Freight Delivery Activities, the Example of Low Emission Zones in Europe</p>

Project Number

2.2a

Project Summary

Impacts of Environmental Access Restrictions on Freight Delivery Activities, the Example of Low Emission Zones in Europe

Project Status

Complete

Year

2014

Topic Area

Sustainable Urban Freight

P.I. Name & Address

Director of Research, IFSTTAR, French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks - University of Paris-East
IFSTTAR, AME
14-20 boulevard Newton, Cite Descartes
77447 Marne la Vallee cedex 2
France
Laetitia.dablanc@ifsttar.fr
Research Engineer
University Paris-Est, IFSTTAR/SPLOTT
LYON Place de La Bourse
69289 LYON CEDEX 02
France
Antoine.montenon@ifsttar.fr

The aim of this research is to identify the situation of goods vehicles in European Low Emission Zones and to analyze the impact of access restrictions on transport and logistics firms and on their logistics activities. Low Emission Zones (LEZ) are delimited areas of a city or metropolitan area from which the vehicles that pollute the most are banned. Targeted vehicles are often freight vehicles as a result of the high levels of pollution emitted by today’s urban delivery fleets. Through literature review, interviews and two specific surveys in London and Berlin, we analyzed LEZ impacts on the urban freight industry. This research shows that the creation of a LEZ reduces the number of firms making urban deliveries, and that this reduction has probably benefited the urban freight market by compelling both public and private stakeholders to find ways to promote more efficient activities. Such modernization is necessary as the urban freight market is dysfunctional in many respects: environmentally because of the old vehicles used until now and socially because of the large number of small firms which find it difficult to maintain a sufficient level of business activity without breaking the sector’s labor laws and safety standards.

Our starting hypothesis was that creating an LEZ will reorganize the logistical chain and disrupt the market on which urban delivery carriers operate. To test this hypothesis, we began by conducting a survey of European LEZs by analyzing the scientific and technical literature and the study of a number of databases that list zones of this type in Europe. We then performed a series of interviews and field visits in two European cities which introduced an LEZ several years ago, in order to conduct an ex post appraisal of how freight transport undertakings have reacted to the creation of an LEZ. The two cities are London and Berlin. We have also elicited the aid of carriers’ organizations in order to distribute a questionnaire among their member transport firms. These surveys and interviews were conducted jointly with local universities and professional bodies from the transport and logistics sectors, in particular the University of Westminster, Transport for London, Central London Freight Quality Partnership, Freight Transport Association, Road Haulage Association, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Bundesverband der Kurier-Express-Post-Dienste. Finally, we conducted interviews with French professional federations from the transport and logistics sectors, particularly those in Paris (this series of interviews is still in progress), and ten or so transport undertakings in order to assess how French stakeholders perceive the LEZ as a tool for regulating urban freight transport.

This research is undertaken within the framework of the METROFREIGHT program as well as the RETMIF (Reduction of Emissions from Freight Transport in the Greater Paris Region) program, which is funded by the French Environment and Energy Agency (ADEME). A second phase of this research, which is due to start at the end of 2014, aims to test the impact of several LEZ scenarios on goods vehicle traffic and to appraise their potential effectiveness with regard to the socio-economic response of transport operators and the scale of pollutant emissions from this sector. We shall do this for the Paris region, which is one of the few urban areas in Europe which has not yet restricted access to polluting vehicles, in spite of the fact that the city’s ambient air quality is very mediocre and fails to meet European Commissions’ requirements.

The conclusions of this research are the following:

1) Low Emission Zones that have been created in recent years in a considerable number of European cities are particularly associated with freight transport: all of them restrict HGV access, and many LEZs target HGVs exclusively. The most emblematic of Europe’s LEZs, that in London, not only targets HGVs, but LGVs too. It is easy to justify targeting goods vehicles because they cause a large proportion of the local pollutant emissions which are partly to blame for the poor air quality of many European cities. It is, however, surprising that when they introduced their access restriction policies, few cities wondered what impact they would have on the urban freight transport system. Few studies have been carried out by the scientific community, business organizations, or the public authorities, even though the reaction of transport and logistics operators to the ban on old vehicles could potentially have a major impact on the organization of urban freight transport.  

2) We have attempted to identify such behaviors by taking the example of cities that have put in place strict LEZs. Some of our conclusions are provisional, as our survey is still ongoing and will shortly begin in one new city (Amsterdam), but they strike us as sufficiently firm to be presented here. The statistical data that we have examined for those cities which provided them show first of all that there has been a reduction in the number of transport and logistics firms operating in the cities with an LEZ. This reduction ranges from 15 to 30% depending on the city. It is difficult to establish a direct causal link between the creation of an LEZ and the reduction in the number of delivery firms and this part of the study requires further work, for example an analysis of data on companies in other cities in the same country which did not implement an LEZ or an analysis of the long-term trends in the number of companies which will show whether or not they were changed by the introduction of an LEZ. Our interviews and surveys moreover show that those firms that are still operating on markets affected by an LEZ have adapted to the new rules. They have implemented a process of adjustment and reorganization that has optimized their urban activities.

3) The final conclusion we have reached is as follows: it is apparent that the creation of a Low Emission Zone reduces the number of transport firms making urban deliveries, and that this reduction has probably benefited the urban freight transport market by compelling both public and private stakeholders to find ways to promote more efficient activities. Such modernization is necessary as the market is dysfunctional in many respects: environmentally because of the old vehicles used until now and socially because of the large number of small firms which find it difficult to maintain a sufficient level of business activity without breaking the sector’s labor laws and safety standards. Structural measures such as Low Emission Zones and urban zones that distinguish between vehicles according to their emissions provide a sound basis for the long-awaited reorganization of the sector which has rarely been undertaken hitherto.