Academic journal article Indian Journal of Economics and Business

A Survey of Economic Measures of Freight Reliability and Security

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Economics and Business

A Survey of Economic Measures of Freight Reliability and Security

Article excerpt


The purpose of this paper is to develop an analytical framework for estimating economic benefits and costs of improved freight reliability and security in Northwest Indiana. Two approaches are employed in this framework. The first focuses on possible operational improvements by examining the existing operational strategies and methods in order to provide an accurate and timely characterization of freight flows.

The second approach focuses on infrastructure investments to add new capacity in the freight network. The implementation of the two approaches is discussed in the proposed analytical framework.

Key words: transportation infrastructure, freight transportation, reliability, security, intelligent transportation systems

JEL Index: L91, O33, R41


The volume of domestic freight traffic in the United States has grown dramatically over the last decade and is expected to increase by 85 percent through 2020. In Indiana, the volume of commercial truck freight alone is projected to increase by 40 percent over the same period. At the same time, the reliability of freight movements has declined due to increased travel time (TRIP, 2005) and recent events underscore the need for increased security of freight operations. The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) administered by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) has recently published a report (NCHRP, 2003) on travel time reliability. According to the report, the transportation industry has just begun to address the challenges faced by unreliable travel time. The root causes of unreliable travel time are not very clear and the experience with how to deal with factors affecting travel time reliability is very limited.

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is also attempting to address these challenges through several initiatives. The FHWA and IN-DOT recognize that the timely and reliable movement of trucks is critical to the economy, and a key element of the DOTs goal is to support global connectivity. The Freight Performance Measurement initiative was launched by the FHWA to monitor travel times in freight-significant corridors. In 2002, FHWA established a partnership with the American Transportation Research Institute to determine whether and how information technologies used by the freight industry could improve travel time and reliability. Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation (2006) has proposed the development of a "National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America's Transportation Network." One of the six areas targeted under this strategy is the improvement of freight transportation reliability and security.

Among the several strategic focus areas addressed by these recent initiatives, a significant challenge faced by INDOT and other state DOT's is to improve the reliability and security of their freight transportation network. This would require that each state DOT develop a knowledge base of the root causes for unreliable freight transportation network, identify the reliability improvement measures, and quantify the effects of those improvement measures on the reliability performance metric.

Like other states, the State of Indiana and INDOT are committed to address and meet these challenges to enhance freight transportation efficiency through increased reliability and security. An important and significant challenge for INDOT is how to optimize allocation of the limited transportation investment funds available to improve reliability and security in the freight network. This would require an analytical framework and an evaluation mechanism that INDOT could use to rank infrastructure investment projects based on the desired level of reliability and security and the associated costs and benefits.

There are many questions unanswered in the current literature on freight network reliability and security. …

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