Geography of motor freight transportation and warehousing: Analyses and findings from six metropolitan areas in the United States of America
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The new trends in supply chain and logistics have led to new spatial patterns of the motor freight transportation and warehousing industry in mega big cities. This study is among the few to systematically explore the spatial distribution patterns or so-called landscapes of the industry, using the six large metropolitan areas as the case studies, namely Chicago (Illinois), Houston (Texas), Los Angeles (California), Miami (Florida), New York (New York), and Seattle (Washington). A kernel density map was created for each region to visually demonstrate the distinct spatial distribution pattern. In addition, several landscape metrics were created to statistically verify the existence of spatial clusters and the compactness of distribution in each area. The empirical results reveal three main characteristics of the landscapes, including: (1) that landscapes of the motor freight transportation and warehousing industry vary by area due to the differentials in the geographical boundary, transportation network structure, and spatial distributions of major freight activity generators of each region; (2) that the freight establishments tend to cluster to take advantage of the economies of scale; and (3) that they tend to be located close to highways and railways to enhance the accessibility to transportation networks. The findings and implications can be used as valuable input to better plan and manage freight terminals and urban distribution centers. In terms of methodology, this research is among a few explorations to introduce the spatial analysis of the freight industry to the freight travel demand forecasting practices.