INFLUENCES ON URBAN FREIGHT TRANSPORT POLICY CHOICE BY LOCAL
Emine Zehra Akgün1, Jason Monios2, Tom Rye1, Achille Fonzone1
1 Transport Research Institute, Edinburgh Napier University, Merchiston Campus,
Edinburgh, EH10 5DT, United Kingdom
2 Kedge Business School, Domaine de Luminy, Rue Antoine Bourdelle, 13009 Marseille,
This is the pre-published version of the text. The final published paper can be found at:
Akgün, E. Z., Monios, J., Rye, T., Fonzone, A. (2019). Influences on urban freight transport
policy choice by local authorities. Transport Policy. 75: 88-98.
Individual freight transport policies have been investigated in the literature extensively in the
last 10-15 years, yet there has surprisingly been very little attention to the process of selecting
urban freight transport (UFT) policy measures. This study focuses on UFT policy choice by
local authorities, investigating how policy context, resource availability and the need for
legitimacy influence how local authorities seek and select UFT specific policies. The
methodology is a cross-case analysis of eleven cities across three countries (Sweden, England
and Scotland), based on interview and documentary data.
Findings reveal that all cities have the same high-level goals, such as reducing emissions and
congestion, supporting the economy and improving quality of life. However, in most cases
these rather general goals are not broken down into clear objectives with targets that can be
measured. Therefore, selected UFT policy measures are chosen from a pool of common
measures (primarily access restrictions such as time windows and weight restrictions), but
without monitored targets that determine whether or not they are achieving objectives. This
does not necessarily mean that the measures chosen are inappropriate, but that there is a lack
of a strategic approach to setting and reviewing measures according to achieving specific
policy goals. This is primarily a result of a lack of resources and dedicated UFT personnel, as
well as challenges related to public acceptability of restrictive policies.
Key words: urban freight transport; UFT; policy; city logistics; planning; governance
UFT brings both benefits and challenges to cities, thus local authorities need to balance their
priorities of supporting the economy and providing quality of life for residents. As cities
accommodate increased populations, they become more dependent on efficient transport
networks (Dablanc, 2007). Businesses located in cities must be able to send and receive their
shipments on time, and local authorities want to attract other businesses to locate in their
cities, recognising that UFT is essential to their economic prosperity (Anderson et al., 2005;
Ballantyne et al., 2013; Kiba-Janiak, 2017). However, UFT is heavily based on road transport
and, even though freight vehicles do not comprise the majority of road traffic in cities, they
produce a significant amount of air pollution (Anderson et al., 2005; Lindholm and Blinge,
2014; Kin et al., 2017). Freight vehicles also contribute to other problems such as congestion,
road casualties, visual intrusion and noise pollution (Anderson et al., 2005; Quak, 2008; Kin
et al., 2017). Traffic levels in cities grow in parallel to the growth in population and
populations experience changes in their travelling behaviours as well as their consumption
behaviours, which affect traffic conditions. For example, internet shopping has resulted in
more freight vehicles with lower fill rates as well as an increase in total distance travelled by
freight vehicles (Verlinde, 2015; Kin et al., 2017).
Despite increasing awareness of freight transport issues, the majority of local authorities in
Europe do not possess the necessary competence and knowledge to manage UFT (Lindholm
and Blinge, 2014; Fossheim and Andersen, 2017). Local authorities should aim to design
inclusive strategies that involve all elements of traffic, including UFT, but historically they
have paid more attention to passenger transport (Ogden, 1984; Marsden et al., 2011; Cherrett
et al., 2012; Ballantyne et al., 2013; Lindholm and Blinge, 2014). Some of the reasons for this
include lack of data and limited communication and cooperation among public and private
stakeholders (Lindholm, 2013). In addition, local authorities experience various financial,
political, cultural and technological barriers (Minken et al., 2003). However, there is some
evidence that in recent years this is starting to change as they pay more attention to
identifying the benefits as well as the challenges of UFT (Ballantyne et al., 2013), although
they often lack sufficient resources to increase their understanding of the dynamics of freight
transport, including the requirements and viewpoints of all stakeholders (Stathopoulos et al.,
Individual freight policies have been investigated in the literature extensively in the last 10-
15 years, yet there has surprisingly been very little attention to the process of selecting UFT
policy measures. The key issues in this process have been shown to be a lack of UFT
expertise in local authorities, a lack of resources, UFT not being integrated with other aspects
of urban planning, conflicts with non-freight transport policies and a limited collaboration
with other UFT stakeholders (Lindholm and Behrends, 2012; Ballantyne et al., 2013;
Lindholm and Blinge, 2014). This study focuses on UFT from the perspective of public
authorities, investigating the process of how local authorities identify and select UFT specific
policies to achieve their transport goals and how this process is influenced by the UFT policy
The approach to this study is based on the theory of Howlett and Cashore (2009), which
argued that policies are not just measures implemented “on the ground” but form a chain
from high level goals down to practical measures. Goals refer to general ideas and aims,
which policy makers intend to address, by then producing specific objectives ideally with
targets, and then selecting policy measures. These are the mechanisms actually applied,
which in the field of UFT can be in different forms such as enforcement (e.g. time window
restrictions) or voluntary initiatives (e.g. certification schemes). Previous research (Marsden
et al., 2014; Monios, 2016) has suggested that the link between goals (more abstract, higher
level elements) and adopted measures (least abstract, practical mechanisms) is frequently not
strong enough when policymakers construct policy goals and select measures. Marsden and
Reardon (2017) showed that almost the entirety of academic papers on transport policy focus
on the implemented measures rather than the link between measures and goals. This is indeed
the case with UFT policy, with only few papers addressing this topic. Thus, in this study local
authority planners were asked about how they select UFT policy measures, and how this
process is influenced by the features of the UFT policy environment. The methodology
applied is a cross-case analysis of eleven cities from Scotland, England and Sweden.
The paper is structured as follows. Section 2 introduces the theoretical literature on policy
formulation, before reviewing both UFT policy measures and known influences on the UFT
policy process. Section 3 presents the multiple case study methodology based on semi-
structured interviews and document analysis, including sample selection, case study protocol
and the steps of data collection and analysis. Section 4 summarizes the data collected in terms
of governance structure, policy documents and the identified policy goals and measures in
each city. The case data in Section 4 establishes the differences between the cities in terms of
their actual policy choices, while Section 5 presents the findings of the cross-case analysis
according to the analytical framework, based on the results of the interviews exploring how
and why these choices came about. Finally, the paper concludes by summarizing the findings
and identifying the contribution of this study.
2. Literature review
This section reviews the relevant literature, beginning with a selection of publications on
policy formulation, the key findings from which will form the first level of the analytical
framework for the research. This framework is based primarily on the theoretical issues
identified by Marsden and Reardon (2017), namely policy context, resource availability and
legitimacy. Section 2.2 provides a brief overview of the main types of UFT policy measure,
which will aid in categorising and analysing the types of policy measures identified in the
case cities. Section 2.3 reviews recent literature analysing influences on the UFT policy
process, which will provide the second level of the analytical framework, identifying the key
practical challenges (e.g. UFT personnel, collaboration with industry, conflicts with other
policies) which represent sub-categories underneath the higher level theoretical influences.
2.1 Policy formulation
Studies in the area of policy making apply a variety of models of the policy design process
(e.g. Sidney, 2006; Howlett, 2014; Marsden and Reardon, 2017), which, although different,
usually follow a similar pattern. First, policy makers try to understand why the problems they
aim to mitigate occur and how they emerge (Marsden and Reardon, 2017). Subsequently,
policy makers identify potential policy measures to address these problems, evaluating the
costs and benefits of each option. Finally, they make a choice (Sidney, 2006). This stage is
crucial because different stakeholder priorities (e.g. policy makers, businesses, citizens) may
lead to conflicts and challenges that may ultimately lead to the failure of certain policy
measures (Marsden and Reardon, 2017). Ideally the last stage of the cycle is to evaluate if the
policy measure has been successful and, depending on performance evaluations, policy
makers can decide to modify or terminate the chosen measures.
Improving the policy design process requires not only detailed knowledge of policy measures
but also the context in which the process takes place (Howlett, 2018). Part of this process is
establishing the link between high level policy goals, medium level policy objectives, and
lowest level “on the ground” policy measures (Howlett and Cashore, 2009). In terms of
transport policy, Marsden and Reardon (2017) concurred with Howlett and Cashore (2009)
that there should be an interaction between policy goals and chosen policy measures; namely,
policy makers need to make sure that chosen policy measures enable policy makers and
institutions to achieve their goals and objectives. Part of this process is for policy makers to
make their choices of policy measures by understanding their capabilities and limitations
(Howlett, 2018). According to Marsden and Reardon (2017), current studies of transport
policy do not investigate issues of policy context (including governance dynamics and power
issues), resource availability and legitimacy. These three elements will form the basis of the
analytical framework used in the present research, therefore each will now be considered in
The policy context as described by Marsden and Reardon (2017) includes the policy
environment, the way in which stakeholders frame issues and power levels between
stakeholders. These issues have been analysed through theoretical approaches by various
authors, some of the most well-known being Kingdon’s (1995) “multiple streams” framework
investigating the influences that lead an item to the top of the political agenda, and the policy
frames theory of Schön and Rein (1995) regarding how stakeholders use values and theories
to frame a concept. The discussion on the role of power in policy processes is centred on
formal and informal networks and governance dynamics, drawing on the large literature on
institutional issues in policy, covering topics such as the interaction between formal and
informal institutions (Rye et al., 2018) and how certain normative, coercive and mimetic
influences affect a convergence in policy design processes (Akgün and Monios, 2018).
Marsden and Reardon (2017) point out that the existence of such influences casts doubt on
the “technical-rational model” of much transport policy that implies that policies are selected
purely on rational analysis of their efficacy.
Financial and human resources significantly drive the choice of policy measures by public
authorities, which can have a major impact on priority among policy aims (Howlett, 2014).
This is particularly relevant for lower priority policy areas such as UFT (Akgün and Monios,
2018). Public authorities enact certain regulations, either through their own choice or from
higher level government requirement, yet without sufficient resources they cannot always
implement, where necessary enforce, or monitor them effectively (Lindholm and Behrends,
2012; Lindholm, 2013). Resources dedicated to UFT also vary between public and private
actors. Howlett (2014) points out that different actors have different interests, resources and
governing norms which all influence the selection of policies. Rose et al. (2016) explored
how institutional pressures act on private freight providers, who must also juggle resources
and legitimacy in the urban environment.
Legitimacy is important both for individual policies and for the public authority itself.
Political actors play the key roles in determining the policy goals and implementing policy
measures in order to fulfil their objectives, but in some cases their policy choice is not
derived directly from the policy goals but from a desire to gain legitimacy. One example is
through transferring policies from other places, such as the rise of certification and
accreditation schemes (Akgün and Monios, 2018). Public acceptability is highly influential
when it comes to policy choice (Howlett, 2005). For instance, a scheme like a congestion
charge can gain public support in Stockholm (Eliasson and Jonsson, 2011) while being
rejected by the public vote in Edinburgh (Rye et al., 2008). Eliasson and Jonsson (2011)
argued that acceptability increases with familiarity. In contrast to Edinburgh’s experience
with the congestion charge, Stockholm introduced the charging scheme first and then held the
vote later. In this way, citizens were able to see the benefits of the scheme before making a
decision. Christiansen (2018) found that citizens dissatisfied with the quality of transport
services are also dissatisfied with the performance of local democracy. Therefore the manner
in which public acceptability is obtained is extremely important, raising the importance of
collaboration which will recur throughout the discussions in this paper.
2.2 Urban freight transport policy measures
The identification of UFT policy goals by local authorities is heavily influenced by other
public authorities such as national governments and the European Union (EU). Reducing
emission levels, reducing congestion, increasing road safety, enabling accessibility and
providing mobility are the most common goals (Fossheim and Andersen, 2017). Local
authorities choose a variety of policy measures to achieve these goals, which can be
categorised in various ways. Stathopoulos et al. (2012) categorized policy measures in six
categories: (1) market-based measures, (2) regulatory measures, (3) land use planning, (4)
infrastructural measures, (5) new technologies, and (6) management measures. Kiba-Janiak
(2017) classified the types of policies in five categories: (1) access conditions, (2) ecological
freight transport practices, which refers to the implementation of policies based on
collaborative actions (e.g. freight quality partnerships, logistics forums), (3) infrastructure,
(4) land use management, (5) innovation & ideas, which refers to the introduction of clean
and technological vehicles in executing UFT and The latter structure will be used to structure
the analysis of policy measures in this paper.
Access conditions include charging and pricing schemes to decrease the level of congestion
in cities, which can be varied for different times of day (Holguin-Veras et al., 2006). They
may also encourage road users to use more sustainable modes of transport. However, it is a
politically controversial topic as citizens strongly oppose these types of schemes (Shoemaker
et al., 2010; Marsden and Groer, 2016). Access restrictions are the most common regulatory
measure, based on vehicle tonnage and size (Ogden, 1992; Visser et al., 1999; OECD, 2003;
Quak, 2008), as well as times and routes where certain vehicles are prohibited (Dablanc,
2008; Munuzuri et al., 2005). However, according to OECD’s (2003) report, access
restrictions are not communicated adequately with other stakeholders such as retailers and
freight operators and can even lead to increases in distribution costs and emission levels due
to increasing number of round trips, total driving time and vehicle kilometres (Quak and
Koster, 2007). Another type of access restriction is Low Emission Zones (LEZ) which restrict
vehicles depending on whether vehicles meet a minimum standard for vehicle emission
(Ellison et al., 2013), and which can accelerate the speed of freight operators in renewing
their fleet and motivate manufacturers to consider making investments in vehicles’
technology (Browne et al., 2005; Quak, 2015). Specifically ecological measures include air
quality management areas, which are often enforced through legislation. Other types include
vehicle recognition schemes (VRS), which are not usually a part of existing classification of
policy measures, as they are voluntary initiatives. VRSs encourage and train freight operators
to monitor and improve their environmental performance, operational efficiency (e.g. fuel
saving) and road safety. Recognition programmes can be initiated by local authorities and
regional transport partnerships through freight partnerships (Dablanc et al., 2013), through
which they foster cooperation between public and private stakeholders. Infrastructure
measures include consolidation centre schemes which are becoming more common in recent
times, usually subsidised by the public sector to overcome private sector reluctance (Browne
et al., 2005; Allen et al., 2012). Munuzuri et al. (2005) categorized land use policies in two
groups as parking and building regulations. Designated loading and unloading bays are the
most typical example for parking related policies (Munuzuri et al., 2005; Alho and Silva,
2014). Innovation and ideas are less common and involve high levels of collaboration with
private operators to develop delivery service plans and freight route maps.
2.3 Influences on the urban freight transport policy process
Previous studies indicate that local authorities have recently started to shift their attention
towards urban freight as a part of local transport planning (Browne et al., 2007; Lindholm
and Behrends, 2012; Lindholm and Blinge, 2014; Kiba-Janiak, 2017; Fossheim and
Andersen, 2017). There are now more venues to bring local authorities and other relevant
stakeholders together such as research projects and freight partnerships. However, despite the
increasing awareness and collaboration efforts, cities still encounter problems when dealing
with UFT. For the most part, local authorities consider freight transport as an issue that
private companies such as freight operators or receivers should take care of (Lindholm and
Blinge, 2014). UFT is very much driven by commercial motivations between shippers,
freight operators and receivers. However, UFT affects both the environment and the economy
of cities, thus local authorities want to support existing businesses and to attract new
businesses while at the same time protecting the environment and quality of life for citizens
(OECD, 2003). From the public sector perspective, local authorities struggle to implement
their own regulations if they cannot get support from national governments or if they cannot
find the required financial as well as human resources (May et al., 2008; Lindholm, 2013).
Many initiatives and projects end shortly after their funding ends, particularly many urban
consolidation centre (UCC) projects (Allen et al., 2012; Allen et al., 2014; Paddeu, 2017).
Lack of support from governments and lack of resources means that local authorities often
are unable to identify policies that will help them balance economic, environmental and
social interest of various stakeholders (Lindholm and Behrends, 2012).
As noted above, despite much research on UFT policy measures, only limited research has
been published regarding the process of identifying and selecting these policy measures.
However, there have been a handful of authors addressing the role of local authorities in
managing UFT and interacting with other UFT stakeholders. Lindholm and Behrends (2012)
studied the state of UFT planning practices in 12 cities from different countries in the Baltic
Sea Region. The identified shortcomings were a lack of knowledge concerning the ways to
include UFT in overall transport planning, a lack of role models and inadequate monitoring.
The authors suggested that local authorities need to work on developing a collaborative
relationship with other stakeholders and understanding the complex nature of logistics. They
also highlighted that land-use planning and transport planning should be better integrated,
especially in new development areas. Ballantyne et al. (2013) surveyed freight stakeholders
in five European countries and identified several issues, such as lack of UFT expertise in
local authorities, UFT not being integrated in other aspects of urban planning and conflicts
with non-freight transport policies. Lindholm and Blinge (2014) surveyed knowledge and
awareness of sustainable UFT among policy planners in Sweden, finding that, as also found
by Ballantyne et al. (2013), the majority of municipalities are lacking UFT data, which
prevents them gaining sufficient understanding to choose and implement successful policies
to accomplish transport goals. Trust, curiosity of policy makers, and knowledge exchange
between different parties are also considered key factors for learning and gaining
understanding about policy measures (Marsden et al., 2011). Lindholm and Blinge (2014)
also identified that restrictions (e.g. weight and time) are the most popular policies
implemented at the local level but no significant evidence was identified concerning the
motivations that lead local authorities to choose these policies. In addition, they found that
very few of the local authorities surveyed monitor the performance of the implemented
measures. The overall conclusion was the need to address issues such as lack of coordination,
sufficient resources and knowledge transfer. The key issues found in these papers have been
used to structure the data collection and analysis, in order to understand how local authorities
work with and attempt to resolve these issues when setting UFT policies.
The approach adapted in this study is exploratory in nature. Exploratory case studies aim to
uncover niches which remain unexplored or have been covered only in a limited scale (Yin,
2011). A multiple case study design enables authors to apply replication logic through cross-
case analysis, which is essential for increasing the generalization of the findings (Yin, 2009;
Meredith, 1998; Miles and Huberman, 1994). The case selection for this study was based on
the perspective of transport maturity introduced by Kiba-Janiak (2017), according to which
cities can be located on different positions on a scale concerning how mature they are in
terms of implementing freight-focused policies in their cities. Using this approach enables
researchers to benchmark mature cities as a reference model for other cities to aim towards.
There is a large literature on policy transfer; however, rather than transferring policies from
other cities, the focus in this paper is understanding the successful policy design process. A
particular policy may be more or less successful in different locations, but a robust policy
choice process is more likely to be transferable. Hence the cross-case comparison in this
paper can help identify strengths and weaknesses in this process.
For this research, the three countries were chosen according to this scale, based on secondary
data from academic literature and project reports, with Sweden considered more mature in
terms of UFT policy, England medium and Scotland lower. For Scotland and Sweden, the
four biggest cities (in terms of population) were chosen, however one of the cities from
Sweden chose not to participate in the study. In the case of England, London was excluded
from the list because of its unique nature and large size and the next four biggest cities were
selected. All case cities are major hubs with regards both to population and also economic
wealth. The final list of cities was: Sweden (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö), England
(Greater Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle) and Scotland (Edinburgh, Glasgow,
Dundee, Aberdeen). While the focus on larger cities may be considered a limitation, these
tend to be the cities experiencing the negative aspects of increased UFT, particularly air
The case study design requires a structured protocol for all cases (Yin, 2009), including
documentary data collection and an interview guide. Secondary data analysis was used to
obtain evidence about the transport governance situation in each country and city and identify
their stated policy goals and other relevant information regarding their urban freight
practices. In total, 15 interviews were completed with 16 respondents. The 15 interviews
encompassed the local authority in each of the 11 cities, and in cases where the local
authorities share responsibility for UFT with regional transport organisations, on the
recommendation of the local authorities these regional organisations were also interviewed
(regional transport partnerships in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and a freight quality
partnership in Newcastle).
The interview guide consisted of three sections: general, policies and policy processes, and
was sent to the interviewees in advance. The questions falling under the general category
aimed to identify primary information about UFT in each case city to supplement and build
on the data obtained already from document review. Interviewees were asked about the type
of products distributed, benefits and disadvantages of UFT from the local authority
perspective. In the second category, the aim was to identify the existing policy goals and
objectives, current or planned UFT policy measures, and other information on targets and key
performance indicators. The third section asked interviewees about the policy selection
process, including influences and barriers.
The interviews were with transport planners and heads of transport strategy. The interviews
were conducted mostly face-to-face and some by phone. The duration of interviews varied
between 45 and 75 minutes. All interviews were recorded and transcribed. Data analysis was
performed in two steps. First, the raw data were categorized for each city according to the
categories identified in the interview guide; general, policies and policy process. In the
second stage, the analytical categories identified from the literature were used for the cross-
case analysis. An analytical matrix was used to collate data against each of these categories,
which was then summarised for presentation in the paper. The data for section 4 came from
both documentary and interview data, in order to identify the actual policy choices in each
city. The findings in section 5 were primarily taken from the interviews, nevertheless
triangulated against documentary data where possible, e.g. for details regarding project
involvement and interactions between local and national policy, although sometimes this was
for the raw data analysis that did not find its way into the summarised version presented here.
4. Presentation of case study data
4.1 Overview of the three countries: organisations and policy setting at each scale
It is important to note that Scotland and England will be treated as two separate countries in
the context of this study. The UK has a devolved system of government, whereby transport
responsibilities are managed at the devolved rather than UK level, being England and Wales,
Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Department for Transport (DfT) is responsible for
transport in England and partly in Wales while Transport Scotland is the main transport
authority in Scotland. There are some differences between Scotland and England in transport
policy at local authority (LA) level; for example, in England, LAs publish local transport
plans whereas in Scotland they publish local transport strategies.
Transport Scotland published the latest National Transport Strategy (NTS) in early 2016,
with stated goals of providing accessible, safe, integrated and reliable transport with respect
to economic growth, social inclusion and sustainability. The key outcomes of the NTS are
improved journey times and connections, reduced emissions, improved quality, accessibility
and affordability in transport (NTS, 2016). The NTS is supported by other national transport
plans and policies, which also involves freight related issues, such as Clean Air for Scotland
(2015) and Freight Action Plan (2006). Regional transport partnerships (RTPs) and local
authorities in Scotland also publish their own documents (Regional Transport Strategies and
Local Transport Strategies, respectively) in line with the NTS and other policy documents.
The NTS has a limited coverage on UFT. Transport Scotland focus on UFT through an
advisory group, which is called the Scottish Freight and Logistics Advisory Group
(ScotFLAG). The advisory board provides the partnership between government and business
established at the national level. There are 32 LAs in Scotland and 7 RTPs, however most
RTPs have only one statutory duty, which is to develop a regional transport strategy, but they
are dependent for its implementation on local and national government, who themselves also
set transport policy.
In England, the DfT covers national transport goals through the Department for Transport
Single Departmental Plan (2017), which focuses on economic growth, improving journey
times, and providing safe, secure and sustainable transport. This document does not include
indications for freight issues. Some UFT-specific guides published by the DfT include Local
Authority Freight Management Guide (2007), Delivering a Sustainable Transport System:
The Logistics Perspective (2008). Another document, Creating growth, Cutting Carbon:
Making Sustainable Local Transport Happen (2011), is not specifically related to UFT but
outlines the government’s goals to create economic growth in the UK and to address climate
change through cutting carbon emission caused by transport activities, which is in line with
the EU objectives, and some of the reforms there such as the government’s plans to devolve
the responsibility for local transport fully to local authorities, which was done later through
Localism Act 2011, also impact on planning for UFT. As with Scotland, UFT is managed at
the local level. There are 353 local authorities in England, which are made of five different
types. They are county councils, district councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan districts
and London boroughs. This study focuses on three metropolitan districts (Greater
Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham) and a unitary authority (Bristol). In addition,
combined authorities started to be established since 2011 as a new form of local governance.
Combined authorities are established by two or more city councils that come together to form
a legal body to collaborate and make collective decisions across their boundaries
Sweden has various transport agencies, which are concerned with the transport system in the
country. The Swedish Transport Agency (Transport Styrelsen) and The Swedish Transport
Administration (Trafikverket) are two agencies that deal with road transport in addition to the
other transport modes. Transport Styrelsen is responsible for preparing regulations while
Trafikverket is responsible for making long-term planning for all transport systems and for
building, operating and maintaining public roads and rail infrastructure in the country. The
national transport strategy focuses on providing accessible, high quality, secure, safe and
environmentally responsible transport systems. Sweden consists of 21 regions and 290
municipalities. Both regional authorities and local authorities have the power to build
efficient transport systems within and across their boundaries. Similar to the approaches in
Scotland and England, municipalities are responsible for regulating and organizing UFT
activities. Swedish municipalities work together with regional authorities and national
authorities in developing or executing UFT projects. Trafikverket has a particular interest in
understanding freight transport related activities at not just the national level but also in urban
and regional contexts. Unlike the national authorities in England or Scotland, Trafikverket
has been involved in urban freight projects together with multiple actors. The projects focus
on construction logistics at the urban scale and by-pass logistics activities across cities and
regions (see the projects: CIVIC and By-pass Logistics). The key case study data are
presented in Table 1.
Table 1. Case city data
Trafikverket and Transportstyrelsen
Department for Transport
4.2 Policy and strategy documents
In the UK (both England and Scotland), city councils and combined authorities publish
documents that set out their plans and strategies for transport for each five-year period. A
similar approach is followed in Sweden where city councils produce traffic strategies. All
these documents have similar motivations such as outlining their baselines concerning
transport, public health and safety and air quality, setting achievable objectives and plans for
showing how these objectives will be achieved.
Similar to the national level, local authorities publish a variety of documents. Some of the
case cities publish documents that elaborate UFT goals and measures separately such as The
Stockholm Freight Plan 2014-2017 (2015), Greater Manchester Freight and Logistics
Strategy (2016), Sustainable Urban Logistics Plan for Dundee (2014), or the
Godstrafikprogram för Malmö (2014). Similarly, some publish related documents such as air
quality action plans and local and regional development strategies. These documents outline
goals and implementation plans for other issues that have some impact on UFT and thus have
some link to specific UFT measures that are later implemented, but not detailed specifically
in these documents. Thus, specific UFT policy goals and specific measured objectives are
less common than those for general transport or other environmental priorities. Indeed, often
UFT measures are not included in policy documents but simply implemented and hence were
only identified and discussed in the interviews.
The contents of these local documents are nonetheless influenced by national goals and
objectives (see previous section), which are themselves influenced by the EU’s transport
policies with respect to air quality, road safety, mobility and sustainability. Reducing the
level of emission is one of the areas that the EU focuses on concerning freight transport,
including a target to reduce the level of emission from transport by 80% by 2050 in
comparison to 1990 levels (European Commission, 2018). All three countries set very similar
targets to the EU targets when setting their individual objectives (NTS, 2016; 2050 Pathways,
2013). In England and Scotland, national governments put a heavy emphasis on air quality
action plans which is then replicated at the local level. In Sweden, the EU’s impact can be
observed more heavily than in the UK with respect to the identified policy measures and the
involvement in EU projects. For instance, the Swedish case cities were the first ones to
introduce LEZs (Miljözoner), while the case cities in England and Scotland will start to
implement LEZs by 2019. Second, the number of EU projects per city, which focus on UFT,
is higher in the Swedish cities than the case cities in England and Scotland.
4.3 Policy targets in each city
Certain key performance indicators (KPIs) related to transport activities do appear in various
documents such as local transport plans and strategies, air quality action plans and
environmental strategies. They are usually in the form of percentages they would like to
achieve relating to certain goals such as reducing emissions, reducing congestion or
decreasing the number of road casualties. The targets developed by each city are listed in
table 2. The levels of pollutants (CO2, NOx, PM2,5, 10), road casualties, level of congestion,
traffic counts, growth of general freight, growth of freight through harbours (where relevant),
growth of freight through airports, journey time reliability, CO2 emissions from council
transport and number of cyclists are the KPIs that local and regional authorities mentioned in
relation to freight traffic and general traffic. Most of these KPIs (except growth rates) are
related to general traffic and in the majority of the cities they are not measured specifically
for freight. Only Stockholm measures emission levels specifically considering freight
vehicles and Gothenburg counts the number of freight vehicles travelling in the city centre.
Table 2. Case city targets
Feeling of safety concerning heavy
traffic among public
Percentage of HGVs not fulfilling the
requirements of environmental zone
Total vehicle count
Total number of HGVs
Number of HGVs on identified
Level of through traffic
Total distance driven by car or truck
in peak hours
Number of cyclists and pedestrians
Level of accessibility on roads and
streets by businesses
Percentage of road network
Number of companies within
4.4 Policy measures in each city
The type of policy measures chosen varies based on the level of progress that each case city
shows with regard to including UFT in their transport planning. According to the five
categories of UFT policy measures defined by Kiba-Janiak (2017) (infrastructure, land use
management, access conditions, innovation & ideas, ecological freight transport practices), it
is clear from Table 3 that access conditions are the most common types of policies among the
case cities. Size restrictions, time window restrictions, designated loading and unloading
bays, limited traffic zones and low emission zones are in this category. Innovation-driven
policies and ecological freight practices are the least common types of policies. Land use
management in the context of UFT can relate to the allocation of a piece of land for UFT
operations or relocation of freight generating activities, the only example of which was the
attention to dedicated loading bays, which was common across many cities.
Table 3. Policy measures implemented in each city
Low emission zone
(aka clean air zones,
Walking speed limit
Engine idling policy
Using public transport
Dedicated road for
Delivery service plans
Freight route maps
Guidance for designing
loading and unloading
Freight vehicle priority
Note: p refers to measures currently planned
5. Influences on UFT policy choice
The case data in the previous section were used to establish the differences between the cities
in terms of their actual policy choices. This section presents the findings of the cross-case
analysis according to the analytical framework, based on the results of the interviews
exploring how and why these choices came about. Rather than compare city by city, this
section summarises the role played by each of the main influences on the UFT policy choice
process, and also identifies some of the broader trends between the different countries. The
three theoretical categories are drawn from Marsden and Reardon (2017) while the sub-
categories within each of these three sections are taken from the previous papers on UFT
policy covered in the literature review.
5.1 Policy context and governance dynamics
5.1.1 Collaboration between governance scales and within departments
Overall, local authorities’ relationship with their national governments is based on
collaboration rather than an enforceable framework. Collaboration between different
departments is very common in the case countries but in varying degrees. The local
authorities that have dedicated personnel show a higher degree of collaboration, whereby
UFT planners work together with city planners and road safety officers when there is a new
project in residential or industrial areas. According to the interviewees, the main motivation
behind the collaboration is to identify solutions about how different requirements can be
fulfilled and how transport modes can co-exist.
In Sweden, environmental zones are part of the national transport strategy, but municipalities
deal with its implementation at the city level. EU and national projects also help
municipalities obtain extra financial resources to be able to implement UFT measures. The
municipalities also commented that implementation of policies as a result of these projects
enables them to obtain legitimacy in the eyes of the national government. One of the
interviewees in Sweden mentioned that “These projects are contributing with money and
resources but the most important thing I think is that they contribute for political
acknowledgement. Even though we do not get our politicians with us, the projects have been
the way to get questions up on their agenda.” This enables municipalities to strengthen their
hand when they want to bring UFT issues to the national agenda.
In England and Scotland, interdepartmental collaboration is also common. They do not have
dedicated personnel for UFT (except Greater Manchester) but departments dealing with city
planning, road safety and air quality work together when UFT related issues arise. However,
the degree of collaboration and clarity in defining responsibilities concerning UFT between
different departments was less clear compared to the case of Sweden. One Scottish
interviewee said: “We try to cover freight issues as only one small part of our job. It is the
same for every other aspect. We have got all these different things and we do not have many
people.” More specifically regarding coordinating different policy areas into the overall
transport strategy, another officer from Scotland stated: “We had to cut down the policy and
unfortunately freight is not part of the Local Transport Strategy. It is kind of a struggle to the
departments in the council. Together with Development and Regeneration Services and Land
and Environmental Services we have to include in the upcoming update on the Local
Transport Strategy. Then, we speak to the colleagues from Air Quality and Economic
Development teams to make sure that they are happy with what is happening.”
At the same time, combined authorities in England provide an official framework to
strengthen collaboration between cities. In addition to potential benefits of combined
authorities, there is also a risk of power imbalance between cities involved in the same
combined authority when developing strategies. Thus, authorities can have disagreements
when designing joint transport plans. The interviewee from Transport for Greater Manchester
raised the following issue “There was no dedicated personnel until two or three years ago.
We were having a look at a potential logistics site around Greater Manchester and there was
a huge disagreement between districts and [consultancy company] on where those sites
should be and we had a practical interest on this because of the transport implications.”
5.1.2 Land-use planning
There is a common opinion among the local authorities that if a new development project is
initiated, all relevant departments including transport planning should work together as the
design of transport networks is an important element of accessibility and these new
development sites should be accessible by all modes. Yet sometimes unexpected challenges
arise. For example, Stockholm City municipality wanted to develop an online booking system
whereby truck drivers can book loading and unloading bays in advance. According to the
Swedish National Legislation, however, streets including kerbsides are considered public
spaces and they cannot be dedicated to the use of public or private parties. In England and
Scotland, local authorities are also aware that land-use policies affect UFT and related
transport policies. However, there is a lack of involvement of freight in land-use decisions
beginning from the early stages of city development. For instance, when city planners grant
companies (e.g. grocery stores) approval to open branches in city centres, they do not
consider how deliveries will be made and if loading/unloading facilities can be designed to
complete delivery operations properly. In order to tackle such problems, interdepartmental
collaboration should be prioritized to increase awareness regarding freight in cities. In
Scotland, municipalities recommend that delivery and loading requirements should be
defined and they should be included in city development plans.
5.1.3 Role of non-freight transport policies
In the interviews, loading/unloading bays and pedestrianized areas were mentioned as the
most common cause of conflict between freight and passenger transport needs. Loading/
unloading bays are constrained by extended pedestrianised areas and cycling lanes. Freight
vehicles are also constrained by bus lanes. Especially in Scotland (Aberdeen and Glasgow),
there are designated bus lanes that freight trucks are not allowed to use. Local authorities use
simulation models to visualise impacts of changes made in other transport modes. For
instance, In Scotland, Glasgow and Aberdeen councils use traffic modelling to see how
freight traffic would be affected if certain zones are pedestrianised or new bus lanes are
added. In Sweden, they build low speed zones where pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles exist
Shared space is another issue where local authorities receive reactions from businesses and
freight operators. The local authorities started to implement bold restrictions to provide more
space for walking and cycling via pedestrianisation and removal of parking spaces. The local
authorities need to consider the needs of urban freight movements such as building dedicated
loading and unloading places as was brought up by one interviewee from Scotland: “If you
do not have the right parking controls and particularly the enforcement of parking, waiting
and loading controls, they have got to drive around and look for finding a space to park. . . .
So, all that extra movement of traffic obviously adds to congestion.” In order to overcome
these challenges, some local authorities and freight forwarders have initiated consolidation
centre projects. These consolidation centres own electric vehicles which are allowed to enter
in pedestrianized areas with exemptions from time window restrictions, examples being
Bristol, Gothenburg and Stockholm.
5.2 Resource availability
5.2.1 Financial resources
Lack of financial resources is the main reason why so many local authorities do not have
dedicated UFT personnel or why some local authorities are not able to measure their KPIs in
order to monitor their policies’ performance. UFT resources are more seriously limited in
English and Scottish councils compared to Swedish municipalities. There has been a recent
change in governance of local authorities in England, creating combined authorities which
can obtain more power and resources for the cities involved. In the case of Greater
Manchester, it can be seen that they are more active in terms of considering UFT in their
In England and Scotland, national governments prioritized walking, cycling and public
transport, therefore, funding calls target these priorities and local authorities design their
strategies and policies around these priorities. If a local authority wants to implement policy
measures concerning UFT, they need to find their own resources. For instance, Bristol,
Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Dundee are the examples from England and Scotland of cities
involved in EU projects to obtain funds to develop freight solutions in their cities. Swedish
authorities have likewise expanded their resources by active involvement in several UFT
5.2.2 Dedicated UFT personnel
Stockholm and Gothenburg have dedicated personnel who are full time employees to deal
with UFT. Malmö used to have dedicated personnel but, due to lack of resources, currently
two individual transport planners handle UFT in addition to other tasks. In England, none of
the individual councils has dedicated personnel. However, the newly combined authorities
are entitled to have more power and more resources. Some of these combined authorities
consider logistics and freight as crucial activities because of their contribution to growth and
development. With this enlarged vision, combined authorities such as Transport for Greater
Manchester established a separate department to deal with UFT. In Scotland, the local
authorities do not have dedicated personnel. One interviewee in Scotland stated “If we would
have more personnel, we may dedicate more time towards freight or indeed any other
individual area but we do not have resources to do it, that’s the problem.”
5.2.3 Project participation
It is quite common that local and regional authorities are involved in EU projects, however
the local authorities were revealed to have different motivations. While some of the
authorities are involved only for exchanging knowledge and experiences, other authorities are
actively involved in developing policy measures for their cities, particularly when the project
can provide direct funding for such measures, often for a trial period. The case cities have
joined various projects concerning city development, sustainability, urban mobility, public
transport and freight transport (including both long-haul and urban freight). Even if they do
not join the project themselves, local authorities can benefit when other actors such as
regional authorities or universities become project partners to fund studies and pilots in the
city area. The rate of participation in UFT projects is the highest in Sweden, particularly
Stockholm and Gothenburg. In England, Newcastle, Bristol and Birmingham showed higher
levels of participation. Scotland has the lowest numbers of local authorities participating in
UFT related projects.
5.3.1 Relationship with businesses and operators
Sweden and England demonstrated a higher degree of external collaboration compared to
Scotland. Swedish local authorities in particular are willing to establish stronger links with
other public and private organizations. For example, both Stockholm and Gothenburg are
actively involved in several initiatives with universities and with private freight operators. In
England there were also some examples where local authorities and combined authorities
collaborate to implement freight focused policies, such as the Bristol and Bath consolidation
centre. The majority of the local authorities in Scotland mentioned that they experience a lack
of interest from businesses and operators. One interviewee from Scotland stated that: “Local
hauliers, trucks and logistics can reach me or my engineers if they need to and we are open
to that, and there is a small number who do contact us but as an industry they are not
knocking our door down.” A regional transport authority TACTRAN working with local
authorities in Dundee and Perth tried to initiate a consolidation centre project but ultimately it
was not taken forward due to lack of interest from the private sector.
Sweden is the most proactive country in terms of working with representatives of the private
sector, stating that businesses and operators should be in close cooperation because UFT
policies impact on freight operations within cities. This is also related to the fact that the case
cities from Sweden implement various dedicated measures to regulate freight activities, but it
is important that they do it in a collaborative manner. They developed a principle which
requires that businesses and freight operators should be involved in the policy-making
process from an early stage as it will enable the local authorities to obtain professional input
for their transport planning and to develop policies that are more efficient. A Swedish local
authority stated: “You should not do something which you did not really ask in advance;
check with stakeholders and then you can just do it. . . . We implement the solutions when we
get all those professional views. If there is a specific interest, we get input and we can adjust
some parts and develop our own proposals.”
The choice of policy measures for freight traffic is usually driven by local authorities rather
than operators. On the other hand, the local authorities hesitate to implement many restrictive
policies as they do not want to drive away businesses and freight operators, which contribute
to economic prosperity in the cities. This was explained by the interviewee from Bristol as
“We talked to the customers of the UCC around the city before we implement any restrictive
movement policies and it threatens the deal for freight operators.” It was also identified that
the lack of acceptance from private stakeholders can weaken political positions of local
authorities when they want to implement policies. Consultation processes, freight forums or
stakeholder meetings become particularly useful to obtain the support as well as the feedback
from private stakeholders. A local authority from Sweden stated: “It is a matter of choosing
the way of compromising instead of regulating. It is easier because you do not make
decisions that are not welcomed by them.” The local authorities in England and Scotland are
increasingly aware that they need to engage with private stakeholders, but the issue for them
is not so much that the operators will react against policies but that businesses and operators
are not even willing to cooperate in the first place unless they see a specific problem. One
noted that “It’s often difficult to get the businesses to participate and give up the time to come
and participate in these meetings but we try as much as we can to make sure that we
understand what their needs are and we are doing things to help them.”
5.3.2 Public acceptability
All case cities acknowledge the importance of gaining public acceptability and they want to
increase awareness concerning freight among residents. They consider it crucial to make
citizens understand the dynamics behind transport goals and policies. According to the
interviewees, citizens were considered less sensitive towards UFT policy measures than
freight operators. However, it was identified that there is an impact of changing geography
and lifestyles on public acceptability; for instance, when the population of households
agglomerate closer to the city centres, they may become more sensitive towards some freight
policies such as off-hour deliveries. Another issue is that citizens might be disturbed by an
increasing freight flow in a particular area and they can raise complaints to local authorities.
On the other hand, public acceptability becomes particularly important if local authorities
implement policies which will affect not only freight vehicles but also citizens in general
such as congestion charging. Congestion charging was accepted in Sweden by a public vote.
A similar approach was taken in Scotland (Edinburgh) where a referendum was held on the
possible implementation of a congestion charge but it was rejected. A Swedish interviewee
commented: “Freight has not been an issue for the public but the mobility and what we do on
street level is more of an issue for the public acceptance. When it comes to policies like
congestion charging, it is really important to get public acceptance on that.”
In addition, public acceptability matters for the local authorities because it has a direct impact
on local politics and governance. The lack of public acceptability may have adverse impact
on the accountability of elected decision-makers as acknowledged by the interviewees. One
English interviewee commented that “It is absolutely vital to have the local population on
board. Ultimately these are political decisions and politicians are elected. They have to
satisfy their communities and we have to tell a story that persuades the voters it is the right
thing to do.” Similarly, from Scotland: “All of our policies need to be publicly acceptable.
Decision-making bodies, local authorities, [regional transport authorities] are all elected
and therefore have to be accountable to the public.”
The local authorities establish consultation processes. Transport plans and planned policies
go under different forms of public evaluation to obtain feedback from different parties before
they are officially implemented. Consultation processes consist of several steps. Local
authorities send out questionnaires to citizens to obtain their opinions concerning policy
measure(s) that they plan to implement. Later, local authorities identify the policies and
roadmaps for implementation in light of the feedback.
The first finding from this study is the identification of policy goals and measures for UFT
across the 11 case cities. The goals are essentially identical: environmental protection,
economic growth, reducing congestion, enabling safe and secure transport and creating
vibrant and attractive city centres. In terms of policy measures to accomplish these goals, the
study confirms previous literature that restrictions are the most common type of measures
(Quak, 2008; Ballantyne et al., 2013; Lindholm and Blinge, 2014), yet there was a noted
difference across the cities, with Swedish cities more likely to choose more interventionist
measures. Congestion charges, low emission zones, time windows, weight and size
restrictions are the main types implemented by the Swedish cities. More voluntary measures
such as vehicle recognition schemes are preferred in Scotland and England where there is
evidence of less collaboration between public and private sectors hence a reluctance on the
part of local authorities to enforce restrictive measures.
Setting targets and collecting performance measurements are crucial activities that help local
authorities quantify the benefits of policy measures and determine if they have achieved their
goals and what improvements might be needed (Lindholm, 2013). However, only a limited
number of the cities perform such monitoring. All case cities measure emission levels but
most perform the measurements for the entire traffic activity; only very few cities analyse
emission or traffic levels with respect to freight vehicles. The other most common targets are
the number of road casualties, journey time reliability and level of traffic on local roads and
trunk roads, but these are difficult to link with specific policy measures. It was mentioned by
the case cities that the main reasons why local authorities do not perform ex-post analysis of
the policies is a lack of financial and human resources. This finding is also confirmed by
Fossheim and Andersen (2017), who found that many freight plans are missing a thorough
justification of whether their freight strategies were successful and their targets were met. The
lack of emphasis on specific targets and post-hoc monitoring suggests that UFT policy
measures are chosen from the pool of common measures described above more because of
public acceptability, frequency of use elsewhere and ease of implementation than because of
a well-justified, context-specific link with policy goals. This does not necessarily mean that
the measures chosen are inappropriate, but that there is a lack of strategy, reviewing and
updating according to achieving specific policy goals.
The next conclusions relate to the influence on policy choice of policy context and
governance dynamics, resource availability and legitimacy – the three types of influence
identified by Marsden and Reardon (2017). There was in fact significant interrelation
between the three types of influence, but it is unsurprising that to some extent resource
availability underpins all of them. Availability of resources (particularly funding) allows the
hiring of dedicated personnel, which in turn provides the ability to increase integration with
other policy areas (policy context and governance dynamics) and to interact with industry and
citizens (legitimacy). While city involvement in funded EU projects was considered primarily
as a source of resources, interviews revealed that it is also important for obtaining legitimacy
by being active in the UFT policy arena, collaborating with other cities with the potential to
identify and transfer successful policies from elsewhere. The more proactive cities have a
vision running through their internal and external activities. The analysis revealed a strong
relationship between the level of participation in UFT projects, the level of integration of
UFT in local transport policy documents and the level of intervention in UFT policy
measures. The findings of this study confirm previous studies (e.g. Kiba-Janiak, 2017;
Lindholm and Blinge, 2014; Lindholm and Browne, 2013) highlighting that UFT has been
given limited attention in local transport planning in many cities which primarily focus on
public transport and infrastructure investments. Yet the interviews showed that local authority
planners are aware of the importance of UFT and the need for policy measures. Where they
have experienced challenges integrating UFT within their governance dynamic, it is often a
result of a lack of resources and a realistic decision to focus scarce resources on other areas.
Marsden et al. (2011) argued that policy learning requires trust and knowledge exchange
between different parties and curiosity among the policy makers. The majority of the local
authorities in this study consider collaboration between public authorities and private
stakeholders (cf. Lindholm and Behrends, 2012; Fossheim and Andersen, 2017) as essential
and stressed the importance of engaging with stakeholders as the collaboration can have
positive impacts on policy choice as well as outcome (Lindholm and Browne, 2013). Our
study showed that such interaction is more common in Sweden than in England and
particularly Scotland, where interviewees revealed a lack of interest on the part of the private
sector. Freight operators obviously prefer less interventionist policies but, as stated by
Lindholm and Blinge (2014), if local authorities want to achieve their local transport goals,
they need to develop policies which combine incentives, agreements and enforcements, and
they need to develop such complex policies in collaboration with other stakeholders. Our
research showed that increased awareness of problems with local air quality in the UK is the
key driver of political salience that is beginning to unite local and national transport policy
goals and is expected to lead to more stringent policy action. Yet the actual policy choice to
address this problem must be politically acceptable. In Sweden they have made better
progress in working with the private sector to make restrictive policies more acceptable.
Looking to the future, some policy recommendations arise from the preceding analysis. First,
where it is not already happening, local authorities must increase opportunities for learning
from and collaborating with the private sector. Second, if not in place, dedicated personnel
for UFT are essential to provide a clear point of contact, knowledge development and policy
champion to pursue UFT goals. Third, an increased focus on collaboration with other
departments, including land-use planning, and non-freight policy areas such as
pedestrianisation, but this in itself can be achieved more effectively with dedicated UFT
personnel, which in turn requires financial resources.
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