How On-Demand Deliveries in Cities Change Services and Jobs: New Survey Results
MetroFreight Research Seminar
Dablanc gave an informative and dynamic research seminar at USC on Monday, July 23. She addressed on-demand instant deliveries, a growing feature of the platform economy. A recent survey (Dec 2017) showed that in Manhattan, already 4.5% of total e-commerce orders (excluding food apps) are delivered within two hours. More than a third of residents use food apps at least once a week. These new services are supplied by digital companies using sophisticated algorithms to connect consumers, shippers, and self-employed delivery couriers. These companies are growing very quickly, with some of the fastest recent growth in urban China and in the large cities of other emerging economy countries.
Dr. Dablanc first examined instant deliveries in Paris two years ago and presented her early results at a METRANS seminar in 2017. Her team conducted a second survey in early 2018. This seminar compared results of the two surveys. Major findings included the rapid rate of increase in instant deliveries and the rapid changes taking place within this industry segment. Two new challenges of the delivery courier job were identified from the second survey: road safety and use of public transport to reach the place of work. Road safety is a growing concern but an invisible issue with no data because accidents are not distinguished between passenger trips and deliveries. Mass recruitment of delivery couriers is underway attracting a less educated workforce, higher turnover and decreasing working conditions. Labor issues have emerged with protests and legal disputes but it is difficult to organize collective groups. The increasing demand for fast deliveries impacts jobs, the way freight services are provided, the city environment and urban planning.
Those in attendance actively participated throughout the seminar giving testimony to the relevance of the research across disciplines. Attendees included Fran Inman, Senior Vice President, Majestic Reality and Chair of the California Transportation Commission; Berry Naveen, Technology Demonstration Manager, Science & Technology Advancement, SCAQMD; Anna Lee, Transportation Associate, State Policy & Programming, LA Metro; and USC Price School postdoctoral researchers and PhD students representing Urban Planning & Development as well as the Center for Social Innovation.
A delivery courier on roller blades in the Paris subway