Freight mode choice: Results from a nationwide qualitative and quantitative research effort

The research reported in this paper focused on studying various aspects of freight mode choice in the continental United States (US) including the influencing factors, the development of econometric models to assess the impacts of public-sector policies and changes in market conditions. To gain insight into this complex subject, the team used qualitative and quantitative research techniques. The qualitative effort involved In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) with a highly selective group of leading shippers, carriers, and receivers. The IDIs provided insight into the key factors that influence mode choice, and the barriers that limit mode shifts. The quantitative effort estimated econometric models that express freight mode choice as a function of key independent variables. A unique aspect of this research is that the models were estimated using high-quality confidential data under the custody of the United States’ Census Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Surface Transportation Board, including: the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS), the largest shipper survey in the world; the Longitudinal Business Database (LBD), a comprehensive registry of commercial establishments in the US; and the Waybill Sample, a 5% sample; together with custom-made datasets of modal characteristics prepared by the authors. Using these data, the team estimated discrete-continuous freight mode choice models representing the choice of rail or truck for 42 different commodity types, and different combinations of independent variables and weighting schemes. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of the research conducted.


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  • Accession Number: 01764545
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 16 2020 3:11PM