Research Projects

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Research Projects

STATUS: In Progress YEAR: 2015 TOPIC AREA: Sustainability, energy, and health CENTER: MetroFreight

Decomposing the Home-Based Delivery Supply Chain Phase 1

Project Summary

While previously residential buildings received only a negligible fraction of freight deliveries, with the rapid growth of ecommerce, homes now constitute a significant generator of demand in urban areas. This change has introduced a major shift not only in the volume of freight moving but also in its distribution across the city, with more trips by smaller vehicles now carrying smaller loads to residential as well as commercial land uses. Due to the rapid pace of change and privacy concerns of private sector operators, the relationship between home-based retail demands and commercial vehicle trips is not well understood. This project aims to comprehensively characterize the new models of urban distribution that have emerged to meet ecommerce (and other home-based) demands in New York City, and to identify socioeconomic, land use, and regulatory variables that influence the organization of this activity. The study will take a multi-level approach to provide insights on the supply chain from the warehouse to the residential building. The study will be completed in three phases.

1) Phase 1: Problem scoping and evaluation of data collection methods: a. A comprehensive review of existing literature on the transportation activity associated with home-based deliveries will be conducted. This review will focus on two separate but related areas of research: personal shopping behavior and urban freight logistics. b. A scoping study to understand the range of delivery types and logistics services currently available in New York City for direct-to-home deliveries and ecommerce will be conducted. c. An assessment of results from (a) and (b) will be completed to identify and prioritize variables of interest for characterizing residential freight delivery activity and stakeholders. d. A comprehensive evaluation of potential data collection methods to measure the variables identified in (c) will be conducted. Methods under evaluation include but are not limited to: building delivery records (software and manual log sheets); building observation (manual and video); receiver diary or survey; doorman survey; urban freight station survey; carrier tracking; and qualitative industry survey/site visits.

 2) Phase 2: Field data collection and analysis: One or more field data collection methods identified in Task 1-d will be implemented to study relevant aspects of residential freight activity. Variables examined may include but are not limited to: the demand for freight generated by residential buildings, including temporal distribution of deliveries; commodities moved and related shipper types; last-mile carriers and their service types; receiver characteristics; vehicles and vehicle technologies utilized; and parking and loading/unloading activity.

3) Phase 3: Policy Evaluation: Existing urban policies (e.g. zoning, curb regulations) and alternative strategies to accommodate residential freight demand and manage externalities will be evaluated to discuss their applicability in the NYC context.


Alison Conway
Associate Director, New Initiatives, University Transportation Research Center (UTRC), Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
140th St. and Convent Ave
Steinman Hall T-195New York, NY 10031
United States
[email protected]