My colleague José Holguin-Veras at RPI recently completed a study on scheduling freight deliveries in New York City. The conclusion was not surprising to those in the field, there are gains to be had from scheduling deliveries outside the peak; surprisingly though, this is not done already (analogous to the economist's $10 bill lying in the street, but in this case a $1000/month check going uncollected). This is the result of coordination and principal/agent issues (it costs receivers more to receive off-peak), which information and appropriate pricing and incentives should be able to solve.
New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced that a pilot program undertaken with the trucking industry found that trucks making off-hour deliveries between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. instead of at peak hours experienced fewer delays, easier parking, reduced congestion and significant savings for the 33 participating delivery companies and business locations receiving shipments. The study, the first that engages both delivery companies and businesses, also found that businesses overwhelmingly supported the benefits, with travel speeds improved as much as 75% and a sharp reduction in parking tickets and fines which exceeded $1,000 a month for each truck. Several participants continue to make off-hour deliveries and DOT is now developing ways to build upon this pilot. Joining the Commissioner was U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) Administrator Peter Appel at a 14th Street location of Foot Locker, one of the retail participants in the study, as well as representatives from Sysco, Whole Foods Market and New Deal Logistics. ... More information on the Manhattan Off-Hour Deliveries Pilot can be found at http://transp.rpi.edu/~usdotp.
The project's premise is
Receivers, by virtue of being the carriers' customers, have a significant power in setting delivery times and, consequently, trucks' time of travel.
Carriers cannot switch operations to the off-hours, without receivers willing to accept Off-Hour Deliveries (OHD).
In equality of conditions, carriers will prefer to deliver during the off-hours because of the higher productivity and lower costs (even when paying prime wages to the crews).
The carriers' cost savings are not large enough to enable shipping cost discounts large enough to attract receivers to OHD.