Performance metrics used by freight transport providers.
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Performance metrics used by freight transport providers.

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    The newly-established National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) has allocated $300,000 in funding to a project entitled “Performance Metrics for Freight Transportation” (NCFRP 03). The project is scheduled for completion in September 2009. According to the project’s background discussion, “public and private decisions related to the freight industry should be based on a thorough analysis of the impacts of those decisions. These analyses are routinely made in the private sector but less commonly in the public sector. As the demand for freight movements outstrips the capacity of the nation’s highway, rail, waterway, air, and port systems, the effects are felt as congestion, upward pressure on freight prices, and longer and less reliable transit times. These indicators of distress in the freight transportation system result in increased supply costs for manufacturers, higher import prices, and higher inventory levels. Ultimately, these costs add up to a higher cost of doing business for firms, a higher cost of living for consumers, and a less productive and competitive economy. Such indicators need to be quantified to be useful to decision makers as well as for public education on freight issues. Establishing consistent performance metrics for the freight system will be very helpful in conducting and comparing analyses of the freight system, particularly by identifying the critical data that are needed to assess system performance.” This report investigates freight transportation performance metrics from one perspective; that is, that of the freight transport providers. In combining the findings of this study with those of the NCFRP study, and other efforts, it may be possible to develop a basis for national and international goods movement performance measurement. One objective is for the measures to be used to better understand freight transport issues, and to relieve some of the industry’s “distress,” while facilitating the economic growth that is facilitated by an efficient goods movement system.
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