Innovative Lastmile Solutions: Integrating People and Goods Transportation

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Transportation systems are integral to modern societies’ functioning, facilitating people’s movement to complete their daily tasks, such as going to work and school, as well as delivering goods to meet people’s diverse needs. However, the escalating transportation demands resulting from the rapid urbanization and the boom of Ecommerce have exacerbated traffic congestion and given rise to environmental issues. Consequently, actions must be taken to mitigate the negative externalities of growing transportation demands.

In 2007, the “Green Paper: Towards a New Culture for Urban Mobility” presented by the European Commission advocated for better integration of passenger and goods transport in urban planning. It emphasized that “Local authorities need to consider all urban logistics related to passenger and freight transport together as a single logistics system.” The integration of passenger and goods transport offers a multitude of advantages. First, it could reduce traffic congestion and environmental pollution by reducing the number of used vehicles on the road and the total vehicle kilometers traveled. This is achieved by optimizing the routes of passenger and freight vehicles to curtail the overlap between them. Second, this integration could enhance costeffectiveness and boost the economy by efficiently utilizing transportation resources (e.g., roads and vehicles), reducing operational expenses for businesses and improving mobility for people and goods. This, in turn, increases trade and economic activity. Third, the integrated transportation system
improves the equity and accessibility to transport services, particularly in rural areas, as merging logistics services with public transport makes the transportation service more viable, ultimately reducing the isolation experienced by rural residents.

This thesis comprises four papers and makes several contributions to the realm of integrated people and goods transportation. It provides an overview of the development of integrated transportation systems, introduces two novel forms to integrate passengers and goods, validates their viability, and advances mathematical optimization within this field.

The first study (Paper 1) comprehensively reviews integrated people-and-goods transportation systems. It categorizes three forms of integrating people and goods transportation: people and parcels sharing a taxi, freight on transit, and crowdshipping. For each integration form, this study introduces reallife applications and summarizes the corresponding research problems. Furthermore, this study proposes a general framework for planning integrated people-and-goods transportation systems, along with directions for future research.

Followingly, this thesis explores two innovative solutions within the concept of integration of people and goods transportation. The first solution combines passenger and parcel transportation using demandresponsive vehicles (DRBs) and drones, considering the advantages of DRBs in terms of flexibility and large capacity, as well as the fast speed and low emissions of drones. DRBs can transport both passengers and parcels, while drones are dedicated to parcel delivery. This thesis initially proposes a passenger and parcel share-a-ride problem with drones (SARP-D) to address the routing problems for DRBs
and drones in this context and devises different solution approaches. Paper 2 develops an arc-based mixed integer programming model solvable by CPLEX for small instances and an adaptive large neighborhood search (ALNS) metaheuristic for large instances with 200 nodes, the largest instance in the existing literature. Paper 3 reformulates the arc-based model to a pathbased model and develops a column generation algorithm to solve it. The column generation approach can produce highquality solutions for SARP-D instances involving 50 nodes. Meanwhile, it can be used to evaluate the metaheuristics for SARP-D.

The second solution this thesis investigates is public transport (PT)-based crowdshipping. In this concept, parcel lockers are installed in several PT stations. PT users act as crowdshippers, picking up parcels from parcel lockers at their origin PT stations, taking public transport, and delivering parcels to parcel lockers at their destination PT stations. Paper 4 develops a parcel locker location model and a vehicle routing model to simulate the PT-based crowdshipping system. A case study in a central district in Copenhagen is conducted to assess the impacts of PT-based crowdshipping.

Computation results reveal that both SARP-D and PT-based crowdshipping could decrease the number of used vehicles on the road and total vehicle kilometers traveled, effectively alleviating traffic congestion. This thesis will inspire innovation in practical applications and contribute to advancing the research on integrated people and goods transportation in academia.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
Number of pages150
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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