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The Final 50 Feet of the Urban Goods Delivery System: Common Carrier Locker Pilot Test at the Seattle Municipal Tower

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Publication Date: 2018

This report provides compelling evidence of the effectiveness of a new urban goods delivery system strategy: Common Carrier Locker Systems that create parcel delivery density and provide secure delivery locations in public spaces.

Common carrier locker systems are an innovative strategy because they may be used by any retailer, carrier, and goods purchaser, and placed on public property.  This contrasts with branded lockers such as those operated by Amazon, UPS, and FedEx that are limited to one retailer’s or one carrier’s use. Common carrier lockers use existing smart locker technology to provide security and convenience to users.

The Common Carrier Locker System Pilot Test in the Seattle Municipal Tower was uniquely designed for multiple retailers’ and delivery firms’ use in a public space. In spring 2018, a common carrier locker system was placed in the 62-floor Seattle Municipal Tower for ten days as part of a joint research project of the Urban Freight Lab (UFL) at the University of Washington’s Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), with additional funding from the Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (PacTrans).

This report demonstrates common carrier lockers’ potential to reach both public and private goals by reducing dwell time (the time a truck is parked in a load/unload space in the city) and the number of failed first delivery attempts to dense urban areas. This research provides evidence that delivering multiple packages to a single location such as a locker, rather than delivering packages one-by-one to individual tenants in an urban tower increases the productivity of public and private truck load/unload spaces.

The concept for this empirical pilot test draws on prior UFL-conducted research on the Final 50 Feet of the urban goods delivery system. The Final 50 Feet is the term for the last segment of the supply chain. It begins when a truck parks in a load/unload space, continues as drivers maneuver goods along sidewalks and into urban towers to make the final delivery, and ends where the customer takes receipt of the goods.

The UFL’s 2017 research documented that of the 20 total minutes delivery drivers spent on average in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 12.2 of those minutes were spent going floor-to-floor in freight elevators and door-to-door to tenants on multiple floors.  The UFL recognized that cutting those two steps from the delivery process could slash delivery time in the Tower by more than half—which translates into a substantial reduction in truck dwell time.

Recommended Citation:
Urban Freight Lab (2018). The Final 50 Feet of the Urban Goods Delivery System: Common Carrier Locker Pilot Test at the Seattle Municipal Tower.