USC Price School of Public Policy

Urban Planning and Development:

METRANS receives $3.7 million Volvo grant to study urban freight

March 25, 2013

By Megan Goulding and Merrill Balassone

The USC METRANS Transportation Center has received a $3.7 million grant from the Volvo Research and Educational Foundation to establish a Center of Excellence in urban freight research.

The center, called Metrofreight, will research ways to streamline the transportation, handling and storage of goods in city centers while working to reduce the impact on traffic congestion, air quality and urban livability.

“Urban freight contributes to congestion, competes with passengers for scarce road and rail space, and negatively affects the livability of metro areas,” said Genevieve Giuliano, director of the USC Metrans Transportation Center and professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy. “We aim to develop a better understanding of urban freight problems and develop effective, sustainable and implementable strategies for solving these problems.”

Metrofreight is an international Center of Excellence with university partners in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Seoul, South Korea. Among some of its research priorities:

  • Congestion and heavy truck traffic in Los Angeles, New York and Paris. Local deliveries by truck typically account for one-sixth of all urban traffic, but potential solutions, such as the consolidation of freight across firms or off-hours deliveries, have been rarely implemented.
  • Air quality and emissions, with areas including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s busiest shipping hub. Urban freight emissions currently account for half of all particulate emissions.
  • Less advantaged and minority communities in Los Angeles and New York that suffer more exposure to freight-generated air pollution and noise.

The Transportation Center, a joint USC Price and USC Viterbi School of Engineering research center, includes affiliated faculty from more than 20 different departments and schools. The center is internationally recognized for its freight research on urban freight modeling and simulation, environmental regulation, port/city interactions, economics of the trucking industry, and routing and delivery.

USC faculty who will join Metrofreight include Maged Dessouky, professor of Industrial and systems engineering; and Petros Ioannou, professor of electrical engineering, both from USC Viterbi.

In addition to building a global network of scholars, this award will enable the center to contribute to the field more broadly by widely disseminating data, information, results and education materials on the challenges of urban freight.

“The Metrans Transportation Center is a great source of pride for the USC Price School, and we are excited that it has been selected to lead this newly established Center of Excellence,” said Dean Jack H. Knott. “Genevieve Giuliano and her colleagues at Metrans are some of the nation’s foremost experts in transportation policy, and I am confident that this award will substantially advance our knowledge of urban freight in both policy and practice.”