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Co-modality is the use of public transport to carry freight

Combining city logistics with the urban public transport is called co-modality. Which makes the planning, tracking and managing passengers and freight with the opportunity to leverage environmental and economic has become apparent due to the co-modal approach.

An investigation on how to integrate transport opportunities that can maximise transport network efficiency, improving the environment and best utilise available resources has been conducted by the city planners, which can be achieved by diverting some freight tasks from the road network and utilise the spare capacity on public transport in order to reduce the number of trucks and vans on the city roads, cutting both congestion and emissions.

These are the context of Sydney’s CBD, on what the project aims to investigate:

  1. The potential for moving freight within urban areas utilising latent capacity on public transport without disrupting passenger service levels.
  2. The role of public transport station services, with a particular focus on how to move goods through stations.

Project background

To support the productivity, livability and sustainability of cities like Sydney the transportation must be safe, efficient and reliable which also applies to the movement of people and goods. To have a better service of a growing population and deliver a greater productivity, particularly in the busy commercial centres, which results in a need to find a capacity to carry more people and goods that is within the constraints of the broader transport networks.

With a 630,000 people working/living in the Sydney CBD that has $70 billion dollar economy and generates 35,000 commercial vehicle movement each day. The demand for goods will continue to increase as the number of people live and work in the CBD.

The people and freight shares the same infrastructure in the short-haul transport but will rarely share the same vehicle. A system that can potentially gain from developing and optimising the spare capacity of aa public transport vehicles for freight transportation which is a concept referred as co-modal integration or co-modality.

Long-haul air transport is the best example for co-modal integration which the passenger aircraft are used to move freight, in which can add revenue for the airlines.

High-level justification

The train network in Sydney is being highly utilised during the commuter peaks and other times the spare capacity on the rail network will be use to move certain types of freight. This will be able to improve the asset utilisation on services that are already committed, generate additional commercial revenues, reduces the number of freight vehicle movements on the road network that can be approach to and within urban centres, it reduces pressure for provisions of kerbside parking, and reduces congestion and vehicle emissions.

With the advancement of tracking, information and communication technologies, the integration of the freight activity into the passengers transport systems becomes more feasible. The exploiting multimodal synergies is increasing in major cities around the globe with a similar trials and ongoing operations that has been contructed in St Etienne, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Dresden, Zurich and cities in Japan.

Co-modality service success factors

The critical success factors are coordination, planning, scheduling policies and operating methods that:

  • Maintain passenger priority while using the latent capacity for freight movement
  • Do not adversely impact the service performance of transport assets at stations or stops
  • Secure, track and record the movement of goods
  • Offer a commercially viable proposition for the public transport operator and customers
  • Suit the design of public transport vehicles.

Project objectives

The critical success factors are coordination, planning, scheduling policies and operating methods that:

  • Maintain passenger priority while using the latent capacity for freight movement
  • Do not adversely impact the service performance of transport assets at stations or stops
  • Secure, track and record the movement of goods
  • Offer a commercially viable proposition for the public transport operator and customers
  • Suit the design of public transport vehicles.

The main objective of this project is to develop a proof of concept for this capability. This will be achieved in three stages:

  1. Understand the opportunities and constraints for the adoption of co-modality in support of the Sydney CBD
  2. Quantify as far as practical the opportunities and constraints of co-modality along with its benefits and costs
  3. Carry out trials involving moving selected types of goods from an origin to a destination, while tracking progress, recording key events, and measuring service levels

In the longer term, co-modality can lead to the following opportunities for Sydney:

Reducing vehicle congestion

  • Reduced truck traffic moving to CBD and within Greater Sydney
  • Alternative ways of servicing CBD developments
  • Transit-orientated design precincts.

Revenue generation

  • Utilising and potentially monetising spare/off peak capacity on public transport.
  • Services development at stations
  • Creating value in land adjacent to outlying and urban stations

Article inspired from imoveaustralia.com

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