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The milk run revisited: A load factor paradox with economic and environmental implications for urban freight transport


  • Arvidsson, Niklas


Research has shown that time access restrictions in city centers might increase social sustainability aspects such as livability or safety, but might also increase the number of vehicles and the total distance travelled; which have negative environmental impact and can decrease economic sustainability. In this paper we see that this negative effect could also be the result of other access restrictions, like load factor restrictions, and may be related to factors other than the number of vehicles and total distance travelled. Such as if the distribution center is in the outskirts of the city and customers are situated outside the city center. In this study a common urban distribution network scenario is presented – the milk run – where only the load factor is changed. Increasing the load factor is usually regarded as a way of improving efficiency, but we observe that under certain conditions improving the load factor affects economic and environmental sustainability, by increasing total costs and emissions. Following insights from this study, policy makers and companies should be careful when using single key performance indicators in urban freight distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Arvidsson, Niklas, 2013. "The milk run revisited: A load factor paradox with economic and environmental implications for urban freight transport," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 56-62.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:51:y:2013:i:c:p:56-62
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2013.04.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Geroliminis, Nikolaos & Daganzo, Carlos F., 2005. "A Review of Green Logistics Schemes Used in Cities Around the World," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt4x89p485, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.
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    12. Niklas Arvidsson & Johan Woxenius & Catrin Lammgård, 2013. "Review of Road Hauliers' Measures for Increasing Transport Efficiency and Sustainability in Urban Freight Distribution," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 107-127, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcucci, Edoardo & Gatta, Valerio & Scaccia, Luisa, 2015. "Urban freight, parking and pricing policies: An evaluation from a transport providers’ perspective," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 239-249.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:9:p:3042-:d:166010 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Berling, Peter & Eng-Larsson, Fredrik, 2016. "Pricing and timing of consolidated deliveries in the presence of an express alternative: Financial and environmental analysis," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 250(2), pages 590-601.
    4. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:3:p:653-:d:134063 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gatta, Valerio & Marcucci, Edoardo, 2014. "Urban freight transport and policy changes: Improving decision makers' awareness via an agent-specific approach," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 248-252.
    6. repec:spr:queues:v:88:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s11134-017-9558-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Meisel, Frank & Thiele, Nicole, 2014. "Where to dispose of urban green waste? Transportation planning for the maintenance of public green spaces," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 147-162.


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