SMARTSET 'Final Evaluation' report is now available

The central aim of SMARTSET was to reduce energy consumption and emissions from freight transport by introducing freight delivery schemes based on urban freight terminals (UFTs). Eight SMARTSET sites developed business models for urban freight solutions, and solutions were implemented to varying degrees depending on the local characteristics of the sites. Monitoring and evaluation of the implemented schemes in SMARTSET aimed to determine whether the schemes have delivered what they should, and continuous monitoring throughout the implementation phase, has also helped to steer the initiatives. This report provides the final evaluation results as well as conclusions and recommendations from the project.

Urban freight terminals are generally implemented at the instigation of a local authority to achieve societal benefits such as reduced air and noise pollution, reduced congestion, and more liveable inner-city areas. The implementation of UFTs requires however, the involvement of a complex mix of public and private partners. To achieve the aims of a UFT and manage the complex interactions required to get them up-and-running, the most important conclusion of the SMARTSET project is that the development of UFTs should include market-based business models, incentives and regulations, cleaner vehicles and stakeholder interaction (networking). These elements go hand-in-hand and the development of UFTs should focus on all of these four aspects.

Furthermore, although market-based solutions are important in order to create long-term financial sustainability, political support and courage are required in order to get UFTs up-and-running. Market-based solutions are not enough to create UFTs and deliver more liveable city-centres, reduced emissions, energy and noise. This requires support from the local authority, which in turn requires the political level to support the initiative, and have the courage to make the necessary changes (e.g. through regulation).

In order to create market-based solutions, it is important to identify the value of the UFT, and those who will benefit. This is important in order to understand who should pay for the service in order to create a long-term financially sustainable solution. If the UFT can contribute to their objectives, stakeholders can benefit from the service and there is a value to be captured and included in the business model. It is also important to note that government subsidies are likely required in order to get a UFT off the ground.

Regulations may be seen as an unpopular choice for political representatives, but their role is key in the creation of the right framework in achieving more liveable inner-city areas with less pollution and fewer heavy goods vehicles. Regulations can open up the possibilities for new types of smaller more energy efficient vehicles to perform last-mile services which transporters can find difficult to motivate otherwise given the vehicles often high capital cost. Larger clean vehicles can require even 

more special solutions, since there are fewer available models on the market (compared to smaller vehicles), and their cost is in most cases prohibitive.

With results from its eight sites, the SMARTSET project has shown that it is possible to create fully market-driven urban freight solutions that reduce emissions and energy use and help to make more liveable inner city areas. The results have been widely disseminated and used to help build capacity in local authorities throughout Europe. This is important since traditionally, freight transport is not a key focus of local authorities (since solutions are largely market-driven by private transport companies) and awareness raising and capacity building in local authorities is key to implementing solutions on a wider scale throughout Europe.

Pernilla Hyllenius Mattisson