ALC Forum: CBD freight challenges and possibilities

By: Anjali Behl

Disproportionate investment in regional versus urban freight planning

ALC Forum: CBD freight challenges and possibilities
Marion Terrill says most growth is urban.


Parcel storage zones in CBDs for e-commerce delivery can improve efficiency and reduce congestion in some of the busiest streets in Australian cities, Australia Post/StarTrack operations director Chris Bresnahan says.

The suggestion was part of a discussion focusing on the challenges of CBD freight delivery during the ongoing Australian Logistics Council (ALC) in Melbourne.

The session included three other speakers: Bestrane MD David Sanders, University of Melbourne’s Department of Infrastructure Engineering associate professor Russell Thompson, and Melbourne Metro Rail Authority director of development & delivery Peter Wilkinson.

The panel discussed ongoing challenges and potential plans to improve freight delivery in the CBDs.

A bourgeoning e-commerce market is seeing problems related to road congestion on busy streets that were not designed to handle this sudden increase in freight vehicles, Bresnahan says.

With an increasing number of people getting their parcels delivered at work, the problem of road congestion has increased as delivery drivers spend more time looking for loading and parking bays.

Creating low-cost parcel delivery hubs will cut the time drivers spend navigating through busy streets, both driving and walking, Bresnahan suggests.

He says there is lack of planning, both in terms of freight vehicle movement on roads and in terms of lack of the number and size of loading zones in CBDs.

Dedicated short-term parcel locking areas in places such as apartment buildings, train stations and service stations can be an easy resolution to this problem.

Storage areas on trains stations can also be a way of building revenue for Metro rail, Bresnahan suggests.

Grattan Institute transport program director Marion Terrill, who chaired the session, and Bresnahan say authorities must give more thought to freight movement in urban areas.

Currently, the political focus is on regional zones but it is the urban areas that are seeing "more growth", Terrill says.

"Investment is not occurring where the pressure is greatest – between ports and city centres."

There is "disproportionate" investment in regional New South Wales and Queensland and, with population growth expected to increase in the next decades, freight delivery will be under more pressure in urban areas.

Sanders says technology can help prioritise deliveries, which can also reduce congestion on urban streets.

He suggests information related to loading zones can help drivers coordinate their route and save time looking around for appropriate loading zones.

Knowing where a loading/delivery bay is and knowing the traffic situation in an area in real time can support drivers increase efficiency.

The panel agrees that there should be more discussion and planning, both in infrastructure and technology improvements, to improve productivity.

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