The Footprint of Transportation

The Footprint of Transportation

The footprint of transportation jointly concerns passengers (mobility of people) and freight (mobility of cargo):

  • Terminals. Transport terminals consume space for the setting of their respective infrastructures. Their footprint can be extensive, particularly in large gateways where global material flows converge.
  • Networks. Transport routes consisting of networks consume space directly as roads and rail lines and indirectly as rights of way.

The true transportation footprint for passengers and freight transportation is difficult to assess. Many infrastructures, such as roads and airports, are dominantly used for passenger movements and can thus be considered shared facilities.

  • Passengers. The need to park vehicles in purposefully designed facilities, including depots, can require a substantial footprint. Street parking also consumes a footprint at the expense of road capacity.
  • Freight. Include various warehousing facilities to hold freight in inventory, such as bulk storage facilities (e.g. oil reservoirs or grain silos) and warehousing facilities for break-bulk. Distribution centers are particularly space-consuming as a wide array of added-value activities are performed, including consolidation and deconsolidation, cross-docking, and storage. Specialized facilities, such as cold storage, are also to be considered.

The growth in the mobility of passengers has placed pressure on the relationships between terminals, networks, and parking:

  • Vehicles at terminal. Large parts of terminal facilities are designed to accommodate vehicles while servicing the terminal. For airports, the airfield can take the largest share of the total footprint for the purpose of being able to handle a level plane turnover (takeoffs, landings, at the gate, parked). The same airport also requires a footprint to accommodate vehicles (cars, buses, taxis, rail) as they bring passengers in and out.
  • Vehicles in network. While in circulation, vehicles occupy space within the network routes. The more vehicles, the more pressure to expand the network footprint as the demand for mobility increases and as segments of the network become congested.

There has been a convergence in the use of transportation assets for logistical purposes, all of which trying to rationalize scarce real estate assets, which include:

  • Co-location. Facilities commonly designed in co-location with terminal infrastructures (particularly rail) and offering a wide array of logistical infrastructures and services. They partially compensate for pressures in the footprint of port terminals.
  • Inventory at terminal strategies. They use the storage capacity available at terminals as a temporary buffer within freight distribution systems as part of inventory management. This has also been referred to as “terminalization”.
  • Inventory in transit strategies. Consider using the storage capacity available while in the transport process. The mode thus becomes a mobile warehouse and part of inventory management strategies as long as the flows have a good level of reliability.

The footprint to supply this system with energy (such as petroleum and electricity) can also be substantial with networks of fueling stations that can be within terminal facilities or at selected locations along networks (e.g. gas stations).