Better understanding urban freight transport – The MetroFreight Project

Science topics June 2013 CityTransport

Laetitia Dablanc, Director of research - AME Department, SPLOTT Laboratory

The september 18, 2017 Update


Since 2013, IFSTTAR is involved in MetroFreight, a five-year international research project on urban freight which brings together the University of Southern California (USC, leader), IFSTTAR, Columbia University, City College of New York and the Korean Transport Institute (KOTI).
The call for projects issued in 2011 received 22 pre-proposals from a wide range of universities and cities from every continent, desmonstrating a growing interest at that time for this topic. Two winners were announced, the MetroFreight project (2013-2018) and the SUFS project (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with the University of Westminster and Kyoto University).
In addition to the partners from academia, MetroFreight brings together local authorities : the City and County of Los Angeles, the city of Paris and the Île-de-France Region, the Regional Planning agency (IAU), the Paris Urban Planning agency (APUR), the City of New York and the City of Seoul.


An innovative research centre

MetroFreight is financed by the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF), a foundation originally affiliated to Volvo (but independent from in terms of research content) which finances ten centres of excellence worldwide on the theme of the urban transport of the future. These centres are managed by a university or a group of universities, but the work is carried out in close collaboration with local partners (cities and regions). VREF allocates approximately €3 million every five years to each centre.
The MetroFreight research centre has been built around the topic of very large metro areas and is marked out by its goal of achieving close collaboration between the different levels of local government in the four areas (Los Angeles, New York, Seoul and Paris). In the Paris area, as mentioned above, IFSTTAR works with the Île-de-France Region, the IAU, the City of Paris, and the APUR.


MetroFreight explores the following research topics :

Livraison urbaine (Laetitia Dablanc - Ifsttar)
  1. Databases and surveys on urban freight transport, links with land uses and spatial patterns
  2. Reducing pollutant and CO2 emissions from urban freight transport2
  3. Optimizing the last mile
  4. Urban logistics real estate, planning and land uses
  5. Alternative transport modes
  6. Intelligent transport systems
  7. Congestion pricing and tolls
  8. Consumer trends, e-commerce


The Institute’s involvement

Several of the laboratory’s researchers are or have been involved in research for MetroFreight: Laetitia Dablanc (project leader), Martin Koning, Adrien Beziat, Adeline Heitz, Pierre Launay, Pierre Camilleri. Emilie Gaubert, Pétronille Rème. Françoise Bahoken, Antoine Montenon, Zeting Liu, Leise Kelli de Oliveira have also participated in the past. MetroFreight funded two theses (Beziat and Heitz), both were successfully defended in June 2017. MetroFreight also allowed  frequent exchanges  of researchers and students from LA, NYC, Paris and Seoul teams.
Once or twice a year, the Consortium  was held  in one of the four centres (LA  in 2013, 2015, 2017 Paris and New York in 2014, Séoul in 2016)
Regional conferences and workshops have been organised(Île-de-France).


MetroFreight Ifsttar team has published two yearly newsletters since 2014, to be uploaded on The last newsletter’s issue is available on

A MetroFreight 2 project, 2018-2020 is being planned , to be confirmed within 2017 year’s end.