Research Projects

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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2014 TOPIC AREA: Integrating freight and passenger systems CENTER: METRANS UTC

Urban Spatial Structure, Employment Sub-Centers, and Passenger and Freight Travel

Project Summary

Project number: MT-1-1a

Funding source: Caltrans

Contract number: 65A0533

Funding amount: $100,000

Performance period: 8/25/2014- 5/15/2016


Project description

Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented)


In this study, we use the Los Angeles region as a case study to examine the relationship between urban spatial development patterns and freight travel. Using the National Employment Time Series (NETS), we identify employment subcenters in metropolitan Los Angeles.  We characterize freight activities associated with subcenters using data from Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). We develop a regression model that estimates freight activity as a function of geographic characteristics, including whether a location is in an employment subcenter, measures of nearby employment, access to the highway network, and proximity to intermodal freight facilities. The results indicate that employment is an important driver of freight activity; however, employment subcenters have an independent effect on freight activity. The results are still preliminary at the time of this report.


Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated)


The results of this study suggest that further research on urban form and freight activity should assess the effects of employment subcenters and how their particular employment composition and characteristics are associated with freight activities at the metropolitan level. Such an approach would lead to more precise policy recommendations for urban goods movement.  This is a tentative result; the result has not yet been fully completed at the time of this report.




Marlon Boarnet
Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs; Professor & Director of Graduate Programs in Urban Planning, Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 301CLos Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]