USC Price School of Public Policy

METRANS Hosts Fourth National Urban Freight Conference

METRANS Urban Freight Conference Brings Together Leading Academics, Practitioners

Gen Giuliano speaks at METRANS conference Genevieve Giuliano, METRANS director and senior associate dean at SPPD, speaks at the National Urban Freight Conference.
Photo by Tom Queally

The METRANS Transportation Center hosted its fourth National Urban Freight Conference (NUF) Oct. 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency in Long Beach, Calif. The conference brought together the academic and professional communities to examine the impacts of goods movement and international trade in metropolitan areas.

Researchers hailed from diverse disciplines including engineering, information science, business, economics, geography, public policy, planning, public administration, environmental and health sciences, etc. Practitioners included those from industry, government and non-profit sectors.

Conference tracks focused on issues such as: modeling; port operations; transport economics; innovative freight movement; international flows and competitions; environment and health impacts; emissions; policy; security and vulnerability; mitigation strategies; and best practices/lessons learned. The number of accepted papers has grown from 80 in 2006 to 110 in 2011, and includes 24 papers from Canada, Europe and Africa.

Port of Long Beach Executive Director Richard Steinke Port of Long Beach Executive Director Richard Steinke was the keynote speaker.
Photo by Tom Queally

Spotlight Session panels combined practitioners and academics to discuss issues such as trucking, environmental justice, North American research linkages, and what researchers need to know about industry.

Richard Steinke, executive director for the Port of Long Beach, delivered the keynote address.

In addition, Southern California serves as the ideal venue for NUF, with 20 million residents, a huge market for consumer and business goods, and thriving ocean and air cargo terminals, distribution centers and transportation corridors. All of these contribute to classic metropolitan problems such as trade-related congestion and pollution.

Warehouse Tour Conference participants tour a warehouse during the site visit.

“This environment is a microcosm of what’s going on around country and around the world,” added Giuliano, who is senior associate dean for research and technology at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development.

This year’s conference also included a site visit following freight, from ship to shelf. The journey began by viewing Port of Los Angeles terminal developments, technology investments and operational changes to improve the flow of goods to truck and rail. A third party logistics coordinator showed transportation and container management in action, including transloading operations. Finally, a tour of a private warehouse helped to understand the supply chain geography of a major shipper.

NUF showed how METRANS’ three priorities of research, education and outreach go hand-in-hand. “At NUF, academics get a much-needed reality check on what they are doing,” Giuliano noted. “Industry gets a better, broader sense of new trends and ideas than what they can learn from competitors at trade shows. Likewise, practitioners are much more willing to share their time, opinions and information than they would outside of an academic conference.”