Evaluations of Time Savings for Freight Transport in Urban Areas

Evaluations of Time Savings for Freight Transport in Urban Areas


T Tretvik, T Engen, SINTEF, NO


This paper is based on a project which investigated improved running time for commercial traffic in urban areas. The focus is on the results of a questionnaire survey, which indicated a low willingness to pay for time savings.


The PRINT project (PRIority for urbaN commercial Traffic) (2008-2011)investigated whether it was possible to provide improved running time for commercial traffic by signal control priority as well as access to reserved lanes. Ten test vehicles were equipped with on-board units, which made it possible to give them priority based on principles normally used for public transport vehicles at traffic lights. The results showed that the commercial vehicles saved 9 to 15 % in travel time through the signal controlled area. Simulations were used to investigate travel time reductions gained by commercial traffic if they were given access to lanes reserved for buses. Savings varied between 0 and 65 %, and depended upon available capacity and local conditions.

A questionnaire survey was also part of the project. Its purpose was to map operating conditions for commercial vehicles in Oslo, and to investigate what willingness to pay existed among freight companies for access to priority measures for freight transport on roads in Oslo. The results show that only a third of companies were willing to pay anything at all, and the average amounts that emerged were far below what the industry itself values the time lost in transport to, and what the government uses in cost-benefit analyses. Most respondents specified amounts less than 12.5 EUR/hour to save driving time during rush hours. Some high values meant that the average value was 15.5 EUR/hour. Fewer companies were willing to pay to save time during off-peak, and the average value was only 8.2 EUR/hour. The willingness to pay for a "monthly pass", giving full access to the priority lanes, was on average 135 EUR/month.

When it came to questions about mobility, three out of four companies felt that these were large or very large problems, and almost all experienced poor mobility also outside the traditional rush hours. There was a strong correlation between experience of poor mobility and the degree of malcontent with the authorities. While 38% of all respondents were very dissatisfied with the infrastructure facilities supplied by the authorities, 78% of those who experienced poor accessibility as a very big problem were very dissatisfied.
A majority could seldom or never shift shipments to off-peak times. The companies estimated that the average time in queue per vehicle and day was almost an hour. Mondays were the worst, followed by Fridays.

All believed that the delays on roads in Oslo were a problem. Two-thirds felt that the delays could vary and affect punctuality, while the rest believed that delays were largely known in advance. It was generally agreed that providing priority in traffic for commercial traffic would help the company. 52% had expectations that the company would be helped to a certain extent, and 41% to a significant extent. There were clear links between a belief in priority measures and several of the questions about queues and delays. Those with the greatest expectations of prioritizing had, for example, the highest average and maximum time in queue per vehicle per day, the highest proportion of poor accessibility as a very big problem, the highest percentage of delays also during off-peak times and the highest percentage of delays that could vary and affect punctuality. This shows that the introduction of priority measures would have been well received and have helped many companies significantly.

Firms perceived that their customers put the most emphasis on reliability and price as competitive factors. Environment, in the sense of opting for the most environmentally friendly mode of transport, were considered the least significant of seven competitive factors.

This paper will discuss several questions arising from the low willingness to pay found in this study. Should several small time savings for freight transport be valued in the same manner as for large time savings? How can commercial traffic utilize reduced travel time? Will they be able to make one more trip during the workday or serve another costumer, or simply reduce costs for extra work hours?


Association for European Transport