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Mobility Measure

Urban freight delivery plan

Urban freight delivery has a considerable impact on congestion and pollution in Bologna’s city centre. The municipality has drawn up a freight delivery plan that it is implementing with the support of CIVITAS MIMOSA.

Implementing sustainable mobility

Bologna’s freight delivery plan is its key instrument to optimise freight delivery in the city centre limited traffic zone. Implementation is now in its third and final phase. For the success of the plan, support actions are essential. The municipality is carrying these out within CIVITAS MIMOSA. The activities aim to promote the integration of road pricing policies with technological tools to optimise vehicle trips for freight delivery.

The main objectives of the measure are to:

  • Reduce congestion and the environmental impact of goods delivery in the urban area;
  • Rationalise and optimise goods delivery in the city with the aim to decrease the distance covered while maintaining the same level of service; and
  • Demonstrate the impact a regulatory intervention of freight distribution can have on congestion and pollution in Bologna.

The support actions of the freight delivery plan consist of three main elements. The first is an analysis of how freight distribution is evolving in the city in order to fine-tune the deployment of system. The second task is to promote the integration of small operator systems to create a shared electronic platform. This platform will be based on the one the municipality already deployed for the optimisation of freight delivery. The third part of the measure is to introduce new access policies to the city centre. These will favour less polluting vehicles.

Outside of MIMOSA, Bologna has already implemented various steps under the freight delivery plan to satisfy freight demand while minimising pollution. With this in mind, the city has for instance rationalised the management of city access permissions, converted the freight vehicle fleet to low-emission vehicles and set up certain areas for loading and unloading goods. These areas are reserved for operators who have joined a consortium of small-scale freight operators.

How did the measure progress?

An initial analysis of the current freight delivery situation has been completed in cooperation with local stakeholders. Throughout the project, this analysis has been updated with emerging trends and scenario modifications. Bologna’s new traffic control centre has been integrated with a van-sharing platform to feed real-time data on the current traffic situation into the route information devices of van-sharing vehicles. Some freight deliveries in the historical city centre are now done by the new van-sharing system. To promote the measure, 21 operators have been contacted, some of which have joined the small-scale freight consortium. Members of the consortium are already benefiting from two electronic parking slot booking models that have being tested. They are monitored in real time through innovative technology to check availability and penalise unauthorised parking. Moreover, an electronic platform and website have been set up. Bologna will communicate with citizens and other stakeholders about the measure through the municipal website, the media and promotional events.
In the framework of measure 3.1 on Road Pricing Policy, a new permits scheme based on revised fares and new LTZ access rules for freight operators (both delivering and supplying goods) has been elaborated. A study to identify the best location for the electronic parking slot modules (reserved to vehicles belonging to the Consortium) also has been carried out. Further attempts to involve more operators in the Consortium have unfortunately been unsuccessful despite the good methodology adopted: To date, the few new adhesions to the Consortium are not enough to implement the measure purposes.
The Municipality of Bologna is now trying to follow a French Study aimed at registering and cataloguing the different typologies of pull-in areas located in the city. Thanks to an algorithm, which includes different parameters such as the distance of the pull-in areas from the shops and the number of shops close to the area) this study assigns to every pull-in area a “preference coefficient” that will be used to identify the most useful pull-in areas in Bologna. The first eight pull-in areas identified through this study have been selected to introduce the booking-in-advance option for the companies which adhere to the Van Sharing Consortium. The Municipality of Bologna has asked permission from the Superintendence of the Cultural Heritage to install booking stations in the historical centre.
Further studies and efforts will be undertaken to lead more companies to join the Consortium, thus increasing the operators’ membership up to the optimal threshold. The implementation of the above mentioned new access regulations to the city centre, recently introduced by the vice Mayor for Mobility in relationship to road pricing policies, could help reach this goal. Furthermore, additional restrictions for freight operator's access to the centre introduced at weekends and on public holidays could also positively contribute. In fact during these days, the ‘T-zone central area’ will remain open exclusively to cyclists and pedestrians, while freight deliveries will take place only between 6 to 9 am. In this sense the Van Sharing platform should become more viable, and this might be a good incentive to make the consortium more attractive in the future.
To promote the Van Sharing Project specific dissemination activities will be carried out among small freight operators. Furthermore, in the future the Municipality will evaluate to support this measure with further disincentives for more pollutant private operators. This is the first and main step in making it economically competitive in the goods distribution market.
To get useful feedback from other cities’ experiences, the scheme has been presented at several conferences and public meetings dealing with urban sustainable mobility.

What were the outcomes of the measure?

Inmeasure designing, Bologna expected that by the end of the measure, there would be:
- A 25 percent reduction in freight vehicle access to the limited traffic zone;
- An average reduction in deliveries of about 10 percent a year;
- Improved availability of parking areas loading and unloading of goods; and
- An average reduction of the occupation rate of parking spaces for the loading and unloading of goods.

So far, the achieved outcomes are following:
- 123 journeys carried out through the Van Sharing system;
- 6,300 Km covered;
- Only two new operator membership to the Consortium.

Despite the Municipality’s expectations and efforts, the results are not satisfactory yet, although they do not show that the measure is inappropriate or badly conceived, rather that it was not able to persuade freight distribution operators to participate in the Consortium. In fact  they were not attracted by the Van Sharing, being afraid of losing market shares (having to share clients) and revenue (the recorded volumes did not optimize vehicle capacity), regardless of the economic advantages resulting from the participation in the Consortium. Therefore, the Municipality is now committed to finding solutions to overcome the barriers to the Consortium set-up. From this viewpoint this measure helped highlight the limitations of the initiative and gave inputs for further developments to city freight delivery plans.
Notwithstanding the failure to stabilize the Consortium, some own account operators expressed significant interest in the idea. Around 30 operators said they would be interested in joining it.
Even if the measure is not fully accomplished, the Van Sharing service is up and running as an alternative option for goods distribution within the ZTL and can be used independently of the Consortium participation.