You are here

ALTERNATIVE TRUCK/HIGHWAY COMBINATIONS: AN EXPLORATION OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR MAJOR PRODUCTIVITY GAINS IN THE TRUCK-HIGHWAY SYSTEM

Primary tabs

Youssef M. FAWAZ

 

Univ.

University of California at Berkeley

Spec.

Civil Engineering/

Transportation

Deg.

Year

# Pages

Ph.D.

1993

255

 

 

Transportation systems in general, and the auto‑truck highway system in particular, have many characteristics of aging technological and institutional systems locked in by standards and tradition. In the case of trucking, evidence suggests that productivity growth has slowed over the past two decades. Conventional efforts to improve trucking productivity have typically focused on the separate components of the system: vehicle, road, or operating protocols. The current status of each component of the system is taken as given, allowing only for evolutionary, marginal change.

It is argued that in transportation systems, another view of change and process must be adopted. Building on the body of knowledge on system evolution and maturity, this dissertation shifts the focus of analysis from the component level to the system level. New combinations of trucks, roads, and operations that could achieve sizeable productivity gains if introduced into the truck‑highway system are explored. Guidelines for selecting new combinations and identifying market niches where new technological formats could establish footholds are presented. A simulation model to assess the benefits expected from new truck and road combinations is developed.

Grain transportation in rural areas is chosen as a possible market niche. The results of the case study analysis indicate that trucks of up to 200,000 lbs gross vehicle weight operating on a network of low maintenance roads present an opportunity for substantial productivity gains. The new combinations can offer services four to six times less costly than the costs of present day grain shipping. Institutional and operational changes necessary to the implementation of such truck‑highway formats are discussed.

Finally, a discussion of the viability of alternative truck‑highway formats is presented. Drawing conclusions about what can and needs to be done, a possible pathway of change to nudge the truck‑highway system into a phase of sharply renewed productivity growth is proposed.