Developing a container freight information system to understand container truck traffic in inland port cities
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Container freight is an important component of the transportation system yet there is little understanding about this issue. This research develops an information system to assist transportation engineers and planners understand container freight transportation in the Canadian Prairie Region. The research conducts a transportation systems analysis to provide information about regional transportation, demand, and flow characteristics of container freight. It also designs, develops, and applies a container truck model to provide information about urban container truck traffic activity. The analysis and model reveal issues that should be considered in defining, evaluating, and choosing among alternative options to improve urban container freight transportation. The transportation systems analysis reveals the following issues affecting regional container freight. The Panama Canal expansion has the capability of altering container freight using the mini land bridge between West and East coast ports although the Port of Prince Rupert is emerging as a legitimate option to the Panama Canal. Railroads are developing integrated logistics centres which often involve relocating intermodal terminals and introducing major container generators to a city. Railroads are operating longer container trains and making fewer stops at prairie cities; however, these cities are developing inland ports to attract international freight. This research produces the first urban container truck traffic model to help overcome insufficient data and information in this area. It comprises defining a container truck network, acquiring container truck traffic data, and estimating container truck traffic volumes. The model is applied to the City of Winnipeg although the following issues are expected to be similar in other prairie cities. The research reveals issues regarding the temporal, spatial distribution, and physical characteristics of container trucks. Overall, about 13 percent of articulated trucks carry containers; however, corridors with high articulated truck volumes do not necessarily have high container truck volumes. Weekend articulated truck traffic volumes are nearly one-quarter of weekday volumes whereas Sunday container truck volumes are similar to weekday volumes. Container truck volumes peak during the midday while articulated truck volumes exhibit an a.m. and p.m. peak. The split between tridem and tandem axle semitrailers is 80/20 for container trucks.