Combining people and freight flows creates attractive business opportunities, because the same transportation needs can be met with fewer vehicles and drivers. This can make socially desirable transport options economically viable in rural areas where the population is decreasing. In urban areas it reduces congestion and air pollution and facilitates the introduction of electric vehicles. The Cargo Hitching project designs integrated people and freight synchromodal transportation networks and the related coordination (4C), planning and scheduling policies to enable efficient and reliable delivery of both persons and small- to medium-sized freight volumes.
Substantial growth and new business models are expected to follow the increasing freight volumes due to the Internet shopping growth and improved mode utilization (both in time and fill rate). New coordination mechanisms supported by ICT solutions leading to control towers, need to be designed to enable efficient integration. Additionally, price and sharing mechanisms have to be proposed to facilitate combining people and parcels transportation. This leads to successful business cases. We identified two high-potential areas: High-density areas, where congestion and pollution are pressing problems that can be alleviated because combining people and freight means fewer vehicles, and Low-density areas, where combining people and freight can keep public transportation and freight transportation at socially acceptable levels in an economically viable way.
In order to make significant steps forward in logistics, new out-of-the-box ideas are needed. This project has the potential to lead to smarter transport by better integration of people and freight modes. Given new technology and real-time availability of information, it is possible to think ahead for new and challenging solutions and make a major leap forward.