Rush hour got you down? U.S. DOT to study off-peak deliveries

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 5/28/2014

Truckers detest rush hour, especially when they are bound by on-time delivery schedules. Fortunately, programs are out there that encourage off-peak delivery times, and they’re gaining some traction.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration plans to award three grants of up to $150,000 each for cities to study the effects of off-peak delivery schedules on congestion, air quality and trucking efficiency.

OOIDA hopes the pilot program shows what truckers already know.

The FHWA, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, will issue the grants to encourage cities, businesses and freight companies to develop off-peak delivery schedules and report the results back to the agencies.

“The pilots will look at how truck deliveries made outside of peak and rush hours – when there is less traffic on the highways – can save time and money for freight carriers, improve air quality sustainability and the quality of life in cities,” the FHWA stated in its grant notice published May 13. Applications are due June 12.

Off-peak deliveries have proved effective in New York City.

In 2010, the OOIDA Foundation provided stakeholder input on a $1.8 million pilot program specifically tailored for Manhattan, N.Y., conducted by local transportation authorities, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Rutgers University.

That program built partnerships between 33 delivery companies and 25 business locations to schedule deliveries between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The program showed that curbside wait times could be reduced from an average of 100 minutes to an average of 30 minutes by shifting delivery times away from regular business hours.

OOIDA supported the New York program as a low- or no-cost alternative for truckers at a time officials were considering “congestion pricing” and other financial measures to discourage vehicles from entering Manhattan during peak business hours.

According to the OOIDA Foundation, some of the businesses involved in the New York program went on to adopt off-peak delivery schedules as a common practice. Participants reported that off-peak deliveries cut down on city congestion while increasing the productivity of the drivers and businesses.

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