Overview of Public Sector Initiatives

The main intent of this section is to describe how best to use the wide spectrum of initiatives described throughout this Guide. The initiative identification process is a codified approach that seeks to match immediate needs with what the various strategies offer. Agency staff in charge of finding ways to address a freight issue could greatly benefit from having the preliminary guidance offered by the set of initiatives discussed in this section. This guidance can point practitioners and researchers in the right direction; however, only detailed planning and design exercises can address important aspects of the selection process. An estimation of the costs and benefits produced by a given initiative, and an assessment of the trade-offs inherent in the allocation of scarce resources, are only possible through a formal planning process.

The term initiative is used throughout this Guide to refer to the set of public-sector actions that could be considered to address a freight issue. Such initiatives typically come in the form of policies, programs, and projects. An example of a policy could be to give delivery trucks preferential access to curb space in commercial areas; an example of a program might be an ongoing effort to incentivize carriers to purchase electric trucks; and an example of a project could be an intersection redesign effort. Selecting the appropriate combination is of great importance.

This section of the Guide provides a comprehensive catalog of such initiatives. The catalog is based on an in-depth analysis of public-sector initiatives used across the world, for which the section introduces a comprehensive classification system and provides a critical examination of the evidence concerning the performance of the initiatives discussed. The review that produced this Guide led to the identification of 54 measures. These measures were classified into eight major groups and organized as a continuum with supply initiatives at one end, demand-related initiatives at the other, and operational and financial strategies in the middle (see Figure 2).The measures also were tied to the active participation of the main stakeholders involved in the freight issue to be addressed.

The eight groups of urban freight initiatives are:

Figure 2: Urban freight initiatives

More often than not, the process of selecting the most appropriate initiative to address a freight issue is far from straightforward. Most cases involve a great deal of nuance, including conflicts to sort out and multiple factors, trade-offs, and the major constraints to be considered. Therefore, extensive stakeholder engagement and data collection often need to precede the selection of an initiative. The tasks discussed in Section 1 for the “definition of goals and objectives to be achieved,” “definition of performance measures,” and “identification of root cause(s)” provide more detail on this general process.

Key inputs required for reducing the set of potential alternatives should, at the least, include: (1) geographic scope of the problem; (2) main goals and objectives to be achieved; (3) key constraints; and (4) root causes of the problem. (For an expanded discussion of how to integrate the inputs into proposed public-sector initiatives to identify their impacts, see the Appendix).

After selecting the most appropriate initiative to solve a given issue or problem, additional considerations need to be identified to ensure a successful implementation. In this Guide, these  considerations are presented as questions that address planning, operations, stakeholder engagement, and risk management and integration. Each group of initiatives includes some questions planners should ask themselves to move the implementation process forward.

The next subsection lists questions that address key considerations in planning, operations, stakeholder engagement, and risk management and integration, and provides a brief description of the significance of each question. Later in Section 2, the key questions that should be answered for each group of initiatives are presented.

Planning Considerations

1.  Is there enough right-of-way available to complete the project?

Some initiatives require suitable space to be implemented; thus, their feasibility depends on the right-of-way available.

2.  Will other projects be required to fully complete the project?

Some initiatives cannot be fully functional without involving other, complementary projects. Not considering these other projects can lead to unintended consequences and added costs for the primary initiative.

3.  How will this project be funded?

A fundamental consideration when designing and planning any policy/project is to identify the funding source(s).

4.  What is the anticipated duration of the project/policy?

The lifespan or duration of a particular policy or project must be considered during the planning process. For example, if new infrastructure is built, how many years will it be expected to operate without needing major changes? Will a policy be in effect for a short, long, or indefinite time period? If the duration of a project or policy is indefinite, have provisions been planned for its periodic reevaluation to ensure it is still applicable?

5.  What is the geographic scope of the project?

Describing the geographic scope of a project or policy will define the area that will be impacted by that project or policy. For example, some projects may have an impact several hundred miles away, whereas others are more localized.

6.  Where is it located?

This question defines the physical location of the project or policy to be implemented. In some cases, alternative locations may be considered. The success of a project or policy can hinge on its location, given that the costs, operational requirements, community impacts and other factors might differ according to the location chosen.

7.  What is the desired size/capacity/connectivity?

Consideration of the desired size, capacity, and connectivity is particularly important for infrastructure improvements and facilities construction. Size and capacity are defined by the needs and scope of the project.  Also important to consider is the connectivity from one system to another. For example, if a ring road is built, it is important to have sufficient access to the ring road from other roads.

Operational Considerations

8.  Will the policy/project be mandatory or voluntary?

Defining whether the policy or project will be mandatory or voluntary is important. Laws support mandatory policies and projects; for voluntary policies and projects, the target groups have the option to participate—or not.

9.  Is there any incentive for participation (or penalties for not)?

The effectiveness of some policies depends on participation from the target group.  This participation can be fostered by providing incentives (e.g., tax incentives, reimbursements of initial expenses, public recognition), or by enforcing penalties for nonparticipation, such as fines.

10. What is the level of incentives?

If an incentive is being provided, the amount or magnitude of the incentive has to be determined. If the incentive is too small, it may not produce the intended effect; if the incentive is too high, it may lead to wasted resources.

11. What is the level of price(s)/fine(s)?

The same considerations discussed for incentives apply to prices and fines. It is recommended that defining the levels of prices and fines follow basic economic principles. They should be large enough to deter undesirable behavior and aid in reaching the desired outcome, but small enough to be politically feasible.

12. How will the policy/project be enforced?

Given that compliance with the policy or project will be enforced by the public sector, those mechanisms are best verified during the planning stage to ensure their consideration in the implementation of the policy or project.

13. What is the target group?

The project’s target group must be clearly identified to focus project resources in the right direction and ensure that the proper impact is achieved. The target group could include receivers, carriers, drivers, communities, large or small companies, large traffic generators, and a specific industry sector, among other possibilities. Because different industry sectors are likely to exhibit different behavioral responses to public policy, it is important to be certain which group is being targeted.

14. What are the criteria for participation?

Ideally, identification of the target group occurs concurrently with establishment of the criteria for participation. There are cases (e.g., public recognition programs) in which the participants must meet specific eligibility requirements to receive an incentive. Companies that do not meet the requirements cannot participate in the program. Determining the criteria helps ensure the efficiency of the policy and prevents unintended consequences.

15. Which agency will lead?

To ensure a successful outcome, the most relevant public-sector agency should be chosen to lead the project. Equally important is for the lead agency to collaborate with other agencies as needed throughout the course of the project or policy, from planning through implementation.

16. What are the resources needed to operate the project?

It is necessary to identify the resources that will be required once the project or policy is operational to keep it functioning during its useful lifespan. These resources include operating costs, staff resources, and any physical resources such as equipment that might be required to keep the project or policy operational.

17. What permits are required to initiate/complete the project?

It is necessary to include a list of all permits that are required to be processed before the initiation/completion of the project, along with any pertinent deadlines.

Stakeholder Engagement

18. Who are the stakeholders?

It is important to identify and engage the proper set of stakeholders for each project and policy. The stakeholders can be any combination of public agencies, private companies, communities, trade groups, individuals, academia, and policy makers.

19. Should the private sector be engaged? If so, how?

Private-sector businesses often are affected by the implementation of public initiatives. In such cases, engagement strategies should be planned to ensure that relevant private-sector representatives are engaged, and that they understand and support the project.

20. Is there a need to engage and coordinate with public agencies? How?

Various public-sector agencies can be affected by, or have the power to implement, policies and projects. It is important to ensure that policies or projects proposed by one agency will not negatively affect a project or policy implemented by another agency.

Risk Management and Integration with Other Transportation Policies

21. Is there a risk of the technology/project becoming obsolete?

The technologies used for a project should be planned and chosen according to the project’s lifespan and duration. For long projects, it might be necessary to consider technology upgrade plans. In the case of infrastructure, a future obsolescence management plan may also be worth considering.

22. Could benefits be provided to the community or pedestrians?

Although the first objective of these projects and policies is to address freight system issues, in some cases it is possible to design the projects or programs to benefit additional stakeholders and local communities. If so, such possibilities should be considered, as they will ease implementation.

23. Are there any safety/security issues that should be resolved?

It is important to identify any safety or security concerns before project implementation. Identifying potential problems in the design phase will reduce costs and improve the safety of the overall system.

Once a preliminary list of relevant initiatives has been compiled, public-sector decision makers and transportation agencies are ready to conduct detailed assessments of each initiative’s pros and cons, and decide on the most appropriate course of action following the process described in Section 1. The case studies presented in Section 3 of this Guide illustrate how numerous initiatives have been identified, selected, and implemented to address freight-related problems in different cities around the Unites States.

Succinct discussions and descriptions of each initiative included in the catalog are given in the rest of Section 2. These descriptions are organized into groups. The descriptions include discussions about advantages and disadvantages associated with implementation of each initiative, examples, related initiatives, and references for further review. Following the descriptions are corresponding tables that summarize essential characteristics of the initiatives (eg., target mode, geographic scope, primary objective, expected costs, and level of effort for implementation). A group summary table also is included that lists each initiative and uses checkmarks to indicate the applicable planning and design questions (considerations) for each initiative.

Practitioners can use the summary tables as a quick reference for each initiative and consult the group summary table to relate the initiatives to the key design considerations, advantages, and disadvantages associated with implementation of the initiative discussed, examples, related initiatives, and references for further review.

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