8. Stakeholder Engagement
Increasing the understanding of freight issues among the public sector and agency leadership, and outreach to the private sector, are the critical defining tenets of effective stakeholder engagement. The public sector cannot address freight issues without understanding the underlying phenomena involved. Often policy decisions relating to zoning, urban design concepts, parking regulations, and restrictions on truck routes can result in unintended problems (Jones et al., 2009). Effective engagement of the private sector requires creating mechanisms to discuss freight issues with the private sector and communities, both to identify potential solutions and the role of the various stakeholders, and to secure commitments to a strategy of improvements. The reader is referred to (Wilbur Smith Associates and S.R. Kale Consulting, 2009) for further reading about mechanisms for engaging private sector in freight transportation planning. Although there are multiple ways to accomplish these goals, the following steps could be useful (Holguín Veras et al., 2013b):
Having such a person in place will likely significantly impact outreach efforts because in time, this individual will become the focal point of communications between the public and private sectors. In addition to training in transportation planning, this person should have a basic background in urban design concepts, logistics, and most importantly, communications skills.
The FAC should become the forum for discussion of freight issues, where critical input will be provided and received. As trust is developed, the relationship between public and private sectors will improve, and this will facilitate implementation of novel solutions. It is good practice to complement the FAC input with targeted outreach efforts to ensure that the public sector receives feedback from all segments of the industry.
CASE STUDY: COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Several years ago in a suburban town near Albany, NY, the County designed a project to reconstruct County Route (CR) 52 (Cherry Ave. /Elm Ave.). CR-52 is a 2-lane suburban road with residential development on both sides of its entire length. During the public meetings for the project, the residents who lived along CR-52 complained strongly about the large trucks using CR-52 to travel across Town from the Selkirk Rail Yards in the southeastern section, to the intersection of I-87 and I-90 in the northwest section. Large car carriers (empty and full) and other tractor-trailer units would travel the road at all times of day and night. The residents complained about the noise (trucks hitting potholes, bumps, sewer grates, and manhole covers, etc., down-shifting, etc.) and the safety impacts (truck conflicts with school children, children riding bikes, and senior drivers). However, since CR-52 is a state-designated truck route, trucks could not be prohibited from using it.
As a result of the public meetings and stakeholder engagement, Town and County officials met with the trucking companies located near the Selkirk Rail Yards. Some of these companies did not even realize that their drivers were traveling CR-52. Because of these discussions, the company owners agreed to re-route their trucks onto State Route 32 (the Delmar By-Pass), and then onto the intersection of I-87 and I-90 in downtown Albany, completely avoiding CR-52, and the residents alongside it. Before the road reconstruction project, and its stakeholder engagement process, it would be normal to see large trucks using CR-52 throughout the day; today it is a rare occurrence. This change has been successful for both the community and the truckers.
CASE STUDY: FREIGHT ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) is the MPO for the Albany, NY region, and the Freight Advisory Committee is comprised of a wide variety of freight stakeholders. At one of the recent Freight Advisory Committee meetings a representative of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association complained about parking and access for trucks in the area around I-90 (NYS Thruway) Exit 25A (See Figure 7). This area, just southeast of Albany, NY, has a successful truck stop and several freight generators, including the Rotterdam Industrial Park and the Golub Distribution Center (a large grocery distribution center). The local highways in this area are narrow with very tight turning radii, and company owners do not allow trucks to park on their property while waiting for their delivery time. As a result, there are very few parking options for these trucks.
After this meeting, the CDTC began working with several of the municipalities in this area to conduct a study to determine strategies to improve truck access and parking. As part of the study, CDTC will discuss these issues with local stakeholders, State and local road owners, and company owners to find the optimal solutions.
Members of the Freight Advisory Committee and freight staff should be responsible for educating elected and appointed officials. The goal of this step is not to train the officials in freight planning, so much as to create an overall understanding of the importance of freight to their metropolitan areas, and how they might contribute to enhancing system performance. Several MPOs (Philadelphia, Columbus and Seattle MPOs, to name a few) have been successful at this by holding site visits, where officials can see with their own eyes how important freight is to their region. Similarly, educational tools and presentations can be useful.
The TAC is a forum where the public sector staff at the various agencies with jurisdiction on subjects that impact freight activity meet to discuss freight policy. This is important in complex metropolitan areas, where the need for coherent public sector coordination is the highest.
A FQP creates formal working environments between private and public-sector groups with the specific intent of fostering the implementation of practices that ameliorate the negative impacts of freight activity (Department for Transport, 2010a). The earliest use of the term is from work in the UK by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) in 1996. Partnerships between the public and private sectors to tackle freight problems have been growing in recent years, and there are now some very good examples in Europe, North and South America, and Japan. The development of partnerships has been most pronounced in Europe, and the following examples have been drawn from there (Lindholm and Browne, 2013). International experience of FQPs are described in the following case studies. For implementations in the US, please refer to the Case Studies in sections C.2, C.3, C.5, and C.6.
CASE STUDY: LONDON
The Central London Freight Quality Partnership (CLFQP) is a partnership between local governments (the seven boroughs of: City of London, Westminster, Camden, Islington, Southwark, Kensington and Chelsea and, Lambeth), local businesses, freight industry and others with an interest in freight issues within central London. The aim of the partnership is to develop an understanding of freight transport problems and to develop constructive solutions. The partnership was initiated in 2005 after a recommendation from a public-private collaboration. Membership is free of charge and has no formal responsibility or mission from the government (either local or national).
The partnership has ordinary meetings four times per year plus 4-5 meetings regarding special issues. The meetings are open to anyone with an interest (normally attendance is about 20-25 people, divided more or less equally between public and private-sector participants). After each ordinary partnership meeting there is a steering group meeting that consists of a total of 12 people (six from the boroughs and six key stakeholders from industry). The partnership and the steering group is managed and chaired by the University of Westminster. The central London partnership (and the other FQPs in London) was initially funded by Transport for London (TfL) but the TfL funding ceased in 2011 and funding has been replaced by a mix of support from the public and private sectors. Operating costs are low and it is seen as a good way to ensure an exchange of information as well as ideas regarding freight transport initiatives in central London.
The members of the partnership welcome the opportunity to interact and exchange information with other stakeholders, and the regular meetings make this possible. The authorities and the different stakeholder groups cite the opportunity to discuss problems and possibilities with others as the main reason for attending the meetings. The most important outputs from the meetings, according to the participants, have been specific projects, such as: a loading and unloading code of practice, reduction in penalty charges for loading offences and an electric vehicle charging point initiative.
CASE STUDY: GOTHENBURG
Gothenburg introduced a “Local freight network” during the EU project START (2005-2009). This partnership continued after the START project ended, and now has three meetings every year with around 20-25 participants representing a range of stakeholder groups: trade associations in the inner-city, large shopping centers, a variety of transport operators and haulers, commercial property landlords, a transport association, university, the vehicle industry, and civil servants from the traffic and public transport authority, the city planning authority, and the department of exemptions and permissions. There has been ample interest and support for the partnership amongst stakeholders.
The chairman of the partnership puts a lot of effort into making the group work, focusing on collaboration and cooperation. Since participation is voluntary, it is acknowledged that there must be good reasons for people to give up their time to attend. The meetings are well organized and run, so participants can count on them to be productive. It is estimated that the total time required to organize and chair the meetings represents about 10% of a full-time post. An important benefit of the partnership for the city authority is that such involvement and cooperation with stakeholders, particularly those from the private sector, is essential to achieve higher-level strategic objectives (for example complex access considerations for a pedestrianized zone). Other key outcomes of Gothenburg’s partnership approach include a better exchange of information between participants, and an increased understanding of each other’s issues.
Concrete effects of the partnership have been a higher level of successful enforcement of regulations within the urban area; a brochure on parking restrictions for heavy vehicles; increased numbers of ‘walking speed areas’ (that enable deliveries to be made as long as vehicles drive at ‘walking speed’); and a length limitation for vehicles in the inner city.
This program could play a key role in sensitizing and teaching private-sector companies how to conduct their activities in ways that mitigate the negative impacts produced.
These initiatives provide a solid foundation for private-sector engagement, which can be modified and improved as demanded by circumstances. Adapting the governance structure to local conditions is fundamental to the success of improving urban freight in metropolitan areas.