Unintended environmental impacts of nighttime freight logistics activities

Nakul Sathaye, Robert Harley, Samer Madanat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, the reduction of freight vehicle trips during peak hours has been a common policy goal. To this end, policies have been implemented to shift logistics operations to nighttime hours. The purpose of such policies has generally been to mitigate congestion and environmental impacts. However, the atmospheric boundary layer is generally more stable during the night than the day. Consequently, shifting logistics operations to the night may increase 24-h average concentrations of diesel exhaust pollutants in many locations. This paper presents realistic scenarios for two California cities, which provide diesel exhaust concentration and human intake estimates after temporal redistributions of daily logistics operations. Estimates are made for multiple redistribution patterns, including from 07:00-19:00 to 19:00-07:00, similar to daytime congestion charging polices, and from 03:00-18:00 to 18:00-03:00, corresponding to the PierPASS program at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Results for these two redistribution scenarios indicate that 24-h average exhaust concentrations would increase at most locations in California, and daily human intake is likely to worsen or be unimproved at best. These results are shown to be worse for inland than coastal settings, due to differences in meteorology. Traffic congestion effects are considered, using a new graphical method, which depicts how off-peak policies can be environmentally improving or damaging, depending on traffic speeds and meteorology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)642-659
Number of pages18
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Atmospheric dispersion
  • City logistics
  • Freight policy
  • Nighttime operations
  • Off-peak
  • Truck traffic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Transportation
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Unintended environmental impacts of nighttime freight logistics activities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this