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Logistics

After the pandemic: Improving Sydney metro freight logistics

Sydney metro freight logistics

This study will develop and evaluate practical, viable and effective initiatives for improving the deliveries within the Sydney metropolitan area in the COVID and post COVID periods.

Increased working from home as well as growth in shopping and entertainment in local areas resulting from COVID-19 has changed demand patterns and hence goods distribution patterns in Sydney’s metropolitan area. This creates the need to implement new initiatives for improving the efficiency and sustainability of goods transport across the city.

A greater understanding of current distribution operations and networks is required to identify initiatives that are likely to improve the performance of deliveries.

Participants

Project background

Challenges

Changes to personal activity patterns associated with the location of work and shopping resulting from COVID-19 has led to substantial differences in goods distribution patterns in Sydney’s metropolitan area.

Working from home (WFH) for many sectors as well as on-line shopping has become common practice due to the global pandemic. Home deliveries of parcels, food and other goods has increased dramatically since pre-COVID-19, leading to many challenges for carriers and shippers.

Pre COVID-19, Sydney’s CBD attracted a high proportion of Sydney metropolitan office workers and shoppers. Public transport was a popular mode to travel to the CBD. However, social distancing restricts the capacity of offices and the public transport systems. This ongoing scenario could result in a significant proportion of persons working from home and consequentially home deliveries and freight activity will form a new metropolitan pattern.

Before COVID-19, consumers typically performed the last kilometre of distribution chains in metropolitan areas, transporting groceries and other goods from shops to households using their own means. However, the growth in on-line shopping due to COVID-19 has led to a substantial increase in deliveries to homes, with significantly more trucks and vans using arterial roads and local streets across Sydney.

Consequently more trucks and vans are travelling to disbursed locations (homes) leading to increased travel by freight vehicles as well as a growing need for trucks to park in suburban streets and in non-CBD commercial centres. The new metropolitan distribution patterns may cause logistics operators to investigate new network structures to serve the city. The alternative could see new an increase in commercial vehicle kilometres being driven across the city.

Opportunities

The changing scenario presents opportunities for increasing the efficiency of deliveries within the Sydney metropolitan area during the COVID-19 normal as well as post COVID-19 periods. However this will require a detailed understanding of current distribution operations and networks as well as an evaluation of initiatives that are likely to improve the performance of deliveries. A range of city logistics solutions and urban freight management measures may be considered to improve efficiency of networks. Successful implementation of such schemes requires partnerships between government and the freight and logistics industry to be established.

This study will create effective relationships between key stakeholders to develop and evaluate practical, viable and effective initiatives for improving the efficiency and sustainability of deliveries within the Sydney metropolitan area.

Industry involvement

Analysis of the temporal and spatial distribution patterns within Sydney’s metropolitan area and CBD will be conducted with data provided by the freight and logistics partners. This will include home deliveries of parcels and groceries as well as parcel lockers and retailers at major activity and retail hubs. Data relating to urban freight network structures, costs and challenges of these delivery networks will allow analysis of the efficiency levels during the pre-COVID-19, lockdown and COVID-19 normal periods as well as predictions during post COVID-19.

See the full list of iMOVE projects here

Project objectives

The main aim of this project is to develop a set of effective policy responses for improving the efficiency of delivery operations in the Sydney metropolitan area.

This aim will be achieved by:

  • Collating and collecting information regarding the changes in delivery patterns due to COVID in Sydney
  • Estimating realistic scenarios of activity patterns such as working from home and eCommerce
  • Reviewing initiatives undertaken in other cities
  • Developing a set of evaluation criteria to assess the performance of policy initiatives
  • Trialling schemes and monitoring their performance

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