Rethinking the Last Mile: New Approaches to Urban Logistics
Wednesday 2 May, 11:00-13:00
Session Outline
Freight traffic can be better managed in cities: good urban logistics systems have an essential role in making cities liveable and sustainable. However, such schemes are often neglected by policymakers. The session will take stock of the innovative solutions in place in different cities and draw conclusions from joint collaboration between city authorities, planners, research and innovative logistics operators.

Innovative freight delivery projects in cities are numerous and the private sector often plays a leading role, but regulatory intervention is usually essential. In London, for example, the congestion charge stimulated investments in freight consolidation centres. More generally, regulated delivery times, shop opening times and delivery schedules and regulation of vehicle noise create the conditions for successful schemes. The session will address the policy framework needed at city level for seamless urban freight logistics and the  support needed at national levels.

The cost of these schemes has to be weighed against the positive outcomes, i.e. reductions in pollution, heavy traffic and noise. The overall financial equilibrium is a key issue and often means long-term public investments at city level. Sharing the cost of these investments sometimes requires contractual agreement between logistic operators, transport providers, retailers and public authorities since there is only limited opportunity for direct charging.

Issues for discussion include:

  • Will freight consolidation centres be the future for distribution in centres, at the heart of green supply chains?
  • What is the role for electric vehicles? How much more use could be made of inland waterways or bicycles?
  • How are the costs involved to be covered or regulatory incentives to be created?


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