Examining the COVID-19 Impact on Freight Transportation
While passenger traffic fell dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, truck traffic remained relatively stable. With residents and workers staying home, demand for deliveries skyrocketed, just one of the pandemic's major impacts on the freight industry. Senior Transportation Planner Daniel Haake, AICP, recently summarized the pandemic's U.S. impacts on freight movement for the ITE Journal, the monthly publication of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
The rapid rise of e-commerce and home deliveries was one of the more noticeable impacts of the pandemic. Panic buying and sudden shifts in consumer demand also strained supply systems that relied on regional distribution centers and daily deliveries. At the same time, fewer cars and commuters on the roads meant the elimination, at least temporarily, of freight bottlenecks across the U.S.
While the long-term implications of these shifts remain uncertain, Haake writes, it does point out the importance of smart freight planning, locally as well as regionally. It also provided a powerful example of the importance of passenger travel demand management initiatives as a freight planning tool. Less traffic and fewer jams meant average truck travel speeds rose nearly 25 mph and goods were delivered to consumers and hospital patients faster than ever.
Read more from Haake in the November 2020 issue of ITE Journal.