Many European cities have notoriously narrow streets and traffic congestion is a problem for delivery and courier services creating a myriad of problems, especially during the busy holiday shopping season.
Parking of delivery vans in residential areas for any lengthy period to deliver packages is a challenge that frustrates delivery companies, residents, and city officials dealing with very limited parking or sidewalk space.
Environmental concerns are also a huge consideration for many large cities and adding more delivery vehicles or trips during the busy shopping season only makes this problem worse.
As urban planners in Europe restrict access to city centers to only the most environmentally friendly vehicles, delivery companies and couriers are increasingly looking at alternatives such as electric delivery vehicles and e-Bikes.
But especially with e-Bikes, there is the problem of transporting a large number of packages to a delivery area from which the courier can then deliver the packages to the residents.
In some cities, couriers have used delivery vans or shipping containers as hubs from which e-Bike couriers then delivery packages to the recipients.
But a group in Frankfurt, Germany working with the city and the public transportation system Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt (VGF-FFM), and other partners, has come up with an interesting idea.
Public Transit Tram as Logistics Carrier
The city of Frankfurt announced they are starting a pilot a program that uses the public transit system (VGF-FFM) to transport logistics boxes with parcels to designated micro-hubs from which e-Bike couriers will deliver the packages.
A special tram will transport the boxes from the main hub to the micro-hubs during off-peak times to avoid disruption of standard passenger tram operations.
The special tram will not transport people and for the pilot project the tramcar only had to be slightly modified to secure the cargo boxes.
The innovators of this project envision a modified tramcar similar to a flatbed truck that would make offloading easier. This could become a reality if the pilot project is a success.
The purpose of the pilot project is to test the scalability of the idea which includes ensuring that loading and unloading of logistics boxes can be accomplished in a reasonable time at tram stations without interrupting passenger service.
It also appears VGF-FMM plans to expand the test phase to actually include delivery of packages.
Hermes is listed as one of the supporters for Logistiktram.de, which is the website for the group that is spearheading this pilot project, making it likely the German courier company will eventually participate in this test.
The use of a tram car to transport packages is certainly a very interesting idea to use an existing transportation system to reduce congestion and expand environmentally friendly delivery.
Electric delivery vans and e-Bikes are all part of the solution, but utilizing the public transportation system is definitely a new twist to increase delivery capacity and reduce the environmental impact in urban areas.
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