Package Deliveries Clog City Streets

January 26, 2020
Package Deliveries Clog City Streets

Over 1.5 million packages are delivered daily in New York City.

Same-day delivery from companies like Amazon, and the increasing movement of people and food deliveries by Uber, Lyft, and other companies, are all adding to New York’s traffic congestion.

The city is considering ways to curb the traffic.  One approach is to restrict the number of taxis, Uber and Lyft drivers, coupled with better mass transit.

Congestion pricing is another.  This charges vehicles fees to enter the city (or area) with the fee possibly changing based on congestion or anticipated congestion.  Bridges to New York City already charge tolls.

Plans for congestion pricing are already underway, with possible introduction by as early as 2021.

Video Spotlight:

This post is based on the Fast Company article, One-Day Deliveries Are Breaking Our Cities, by Jasper Dekker, December 23, 2019; the TT News article, NYC Creeps Ahead on Congestion Fees, Raising Doubts on Deadline, by Henry Goldman, December 27, 2019; and the YouTube videos in the Video Spotlight. Image source: Ron_Thomas/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. What approaches are available to firms like Amazon to address these challenges?

Guidance: Obviously, as companies look at same day delivery, traditional individual truck deliveries will not work.  It may require a variety of approaches. One method would be to combine shipments for truck deliveries.  Instead of potentially going to each location multiple times per day, consolidate to one delivery per day.  Today’s software can assist with this process.  As Amazon looks at 2-3 hour delivery, this may not be appropriate.  Also, it doesn’t address the issue of multiple deliveries to one address from multiple delivery organizations.

Another approach is to have the delivery truck go to a specific location and have multiple people pick-up packages for final delivery.  These could include additional delivery drivers, messengers, and bike messengers.

Inventory could be maintained at a local warehouse.  In this fashion, truck loads could be brought to the warehouse in off hours to reduce the distance for final delivery.  Final delivery would still need to be worked out.  Additionally, warehouse space is expensive in many cities.

Many organizations are looking at making lockers available for customers to pick up packages from a variety of locations, another way of consolidating deliveries.  These locations could be selected to be more delivery friendly versus a random address.  One problem is that these locations are proprietary.  Potentially, a customer might need to go to multiple locations to get their packages.

Additional approaches deal with how the final delivery will be made to the customers.  Potential new approaches include drone, delivery to a parked car, electric cargo bike deliveries, autonomous vehicles, and autonomous robots.

2. What advice would you give to cities facing increased gridlock

Guidance: Gridlock benefits no one.  Urban areas need to keep traffic flowing.  It needs to be easy for people to live and conduct business.  Moving people and packages through methods other than by road is imperative.

Effective mass transit will help reduce the load.  Congestion pricing may encourage other delivery methods.  Having governments work with delivery companies could be beneficial.  The wealth of data these companies have about delivery locations could help cities determine where consolidation points should be located, make delivery parking available, etc.


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