The Sustainable Freight Research Center is part of the STEPS+ Consortium at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis).
The freight system is a key component of California’s economy, but it is also a critical contributor to a number of externalities. Different public agencies, private sector stakeholders, and academia engaged in the development of the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan (CSFAP). This plan put forward a number of improvement strategies/policies. However, the freight system is so complex and multifaceted, with a great number of stakeholders, and freight operational patterns, that evaluating or assessing the potential impacts of such strategies/policies is a difficult task. To shed some light, this project develops a freight system conceptualization and impact assessment framework of the freight movements in the State. In doing this, the framework assesses the impact of commodity flows from different freight industry sectors along supply chains within, originating at, or with a destination in the state of California.
The conceptual framework analyzes the freight flows in supply chains, and the type of freight activity movements and modes. The framework uses a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Methodology. The framework could be extended to support multidimensional cost/benefit appraisals for both direct benefits (e.g., delays, costs, accidents, maintenance) and social benefits to non-users which include impacts on regional and national economies as well as environmental and health impacts. This report discusses the main components of the conceptual framework based on a comprehensive review of existing methodologies. The implementation is limited to the Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) following the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tool for Reduction and Assessment of Chemicals and Other Environmental Impacts (TRACI).
The report describes the results from the LCIA implementation for a number of case studies. Specifically, the work estimated the impacts of moving a ton of cargo over a mile for various industry categories and commodity types. These results show the relative difference across industries and commodities and could serve to identify freight efficiency improvement measures in the state of California.
Jobs and Automated Freight Transportation: How Automation Affects the Freight Industry and What to Do About It
The expansion of automation in the U.S. economy is increasingly tangible and will presumably entail positive and negative impacts that are not yet well understood. In the freight sector, there is uncertainty about how and when automation will impact labor. Beyond this, there are further unknowns about what the impacts will be on such freight subsectors as warehousing, long- and short-haul. It is expected that penetration rates of freight automation will vary across subsectors. In some subsectors, new jobs will be created and/or working conditions will improve. Other subsectors will see declining job quality and/or job losses that require workers to transition to new roles or sectors entirely, when possible. Changes in job opportunities and quality will vary within sectors and subsectors, by region, and/or by firm. This study offers an overview and recommendations in three directions. First, despite the uncertainties and based on past and present examples of automation, it provides some insights about strategies that may help impacted workers within and outside of the heavy freight sector transition. Second, it discusses examples of existing public policies that can support a transition for automation-impacted workers. And third, it provides insights on how different freight subsectors are likely to be impacted by automation.
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