The use of global positioning satellite technology by harbor trucking companies can improve freight flow and contribute to reduced congestion and pollution in port cities, a pilot study in Southern California indicates.
Val Noronha, president of Geographic Research Corp., in cooperation with the University of California in Santa Barbara, has been testing the use of GPS technology to track truck movements between Los Angeles-Long Beach harbor and distribution warehouses throughout the region.
Initial results indicate that motor carriers that install GPS trackers in their trucks achieve better utilization of their fleets, reduce empty miles traveled, burn less fuel and interface more efficiently with marine terminal operators and warehouses.
However, optimal results depend upon the cooperation and sharing of data among all members of the transportation chain, Noronha told the Metrans conference in Long Beach Friday.
The GPS system tracks the route of the truck, queue times at terminals and warehouses, delays on freeways by time day and turn times at marine terminals. This data and similar information is valuable in planning routing for trucks, with the value improving the closer the system gets to real-time.
The information can also be used by industry as it works with regulatory agencies and community organizations concerned about the impact of trucking on local neighborhoods. For example, there is a perception among some interests that harbor truckers frequently park their rigs in residential neighborhoods, but Noronha said his data has yet to record such an incident.
While the use of GPS systems comes at a cost, harbor trucking must be viewed as being part of a local, state, regional and national transportation system, with each sector benefiting in some way from more efficient goods movement and reduced fuel consumption, pollution and traffic congestion.
Therefore, in the case of Los Angeles-Long Beach, if the trucking industry, Southern California Association of Governments, California Department of Transportation and federal Environmental Protection Agency all contribute to a region-wide system, the benefits will exceed the costs.
The current test is being funded with government money, but it appears that a system-wide approach in a public-private partnership would be viable. "I am not worried about the cost-benefit ratio," Noronha said.
Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at firstname.lastname@example.org.