- The City of Santa Monica, California, in partnership with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and others, is looking to pilot a first-of-its-kind, voluntary, zero-emissions delivery zone, according to a recently issued request for information (RFI).
- The delivery zone, a one-square-mile area in what it calls the city's "commercial activity core," is home to the commercial districts of Downtown Santa Monica and Main Street. The RFI says LACI and the city are eager to explore new technologies to cut delivery traffic in the zone, with solutions like e-cargo bikes; micromobility devices; curb management; light- and medium-duty electric vehicles (EVs); and measurement and tracking for pollution, congestion and other data points. The pilot is designed to help LACI hit the goals in its Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) 2028 roadmap.
- Technology providers, including startups, community organizations and nonprofits, are encouraged to respond to the RFI by June 29. LACI said delivery companies should not respond to the RFI, but are encouraged to submit innovative ideas to be considered in the pilot.
As cities aim to manage curb space and reduce congestion caused by large delivery trucks, they have increasingly turned to strategic partnerships and innovative solutions. New York City and Miami have launched e-cargo bike pilot programs, while Los Angeles partnered with London in an "Innovator Cities" collaboration to work on some of the biggest transportation challenges both face.
California has long been a leader in the charge to reduce emissions, with numerous efforts spearheaded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The board is considering a proposal that would require manufacturers to produce 9% of Class 8 straight trucks to be zero-emission and 5% of class 8 tractors to be zero-emission in 2024. The CARB is also looking to collect data on fleets' vehicle inventory and operations data for each of their California facilities.
Proposals such as those from the CARB would normally be scrutinized by OEMs very carefully. But OEMs and large fleets seem to be embracing the challenges, as the push for alternative fuel systems continues.
The TEP roadmap aims for 30% of all cars on the road to be electric by 2028, as well as other goals on reducing goods movement from heavy- and medium-duty trucks, and encouraging a greater mode shift away from cars and trucks. With the 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games set to descend on Los Angeles, LACI CEO Matt Petersen said the time is ripe for moving away from old methods to try something new.
"We don't have all the answers, but it's going to include something that's a different form factor than a four-wheel vehicle in there," Petersen told Transport Dive sister publication Smart Cities Dive.
It will be "critical" to have legacy delivery companies — UPS, FedEx and the like — involved in the pilot, with Ikea having already committed to making deliveries in the region using 100 electric trucks, he said. Meanwhile, other delivery companies are committed to using more electric vehicles (EVs), and Petersen said their partnership will be "critical to see how their drivers and their customers interact with this."
LACI and its partners are looking to try a variety of different delivery options in a bid to figure out what works, Petersen said. With plenty to learn about innovative package and food delivery, as well as investing in infrastructure to support electric trucks and bikes making deliveries and charging, he said the pilot will be a key time to experiment.