Performance Metrics for Freight Transportation Productivity

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. The objective of this project is to determine performance measures that should be used to gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of the freight transportation system and to promote public understanding of the importance of efficient freight transportation to the nation's economy. It is expected that these performance measures would be useful both in the public and private sector, particularly in making investment decisions at the national, state and local levels. It should be noted that decision makers are looking for no more than 4 to 6 key performance metrics to be used to measure progress toward stated organizational or societal objectives/goals. Examples of issues that should be considered in establishing performance measures include: infrastructure condition, capital needed and available, congestion, injuries, fatalities, cost of security, energy usage and availability, environmental costs, human capital, ton-mile production, and intermodal transfers. For each recommended performance measure, identify the data sources and gaps and describe any needs for data standards. Describe any concerns identified with current confidentiality/privacy laws and regulations. For any data drawn from the private sector, provide a rationale for firms to participate in the effort. The project should produce initial thoughts on a freight data architecture and methods to capture raw trend data on a routine basis.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $300000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    NCFRP 03

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    Department of Transportation
    1200 New Jersey Avneue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Freight Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Start Date: 20070703
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 13663

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01460364
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Cooperative Freight Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: NCFRP 03
  • Files: RIP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 1:23PM