Performance Measures for Freight Transportation

Author: National Cooperative Freight Research Program

NCFRP Report 10: Performance Measures for Freight Transportation presents a comprehensive, objective, and consistent set of measures to gauge the performance of the freight transportation system. These measures are presented in the form of a Freight System Report Card, which reports information in three formats, each increasingly detailed, to serve the needs of a wide variety of users from decision makers at all levels to anyone interested in assessing the performance of the nation’s freight transportation system.

As the demand for freight transportation outstrips the capacity of the nation’s highway, rail, waterway, air, and port systems, the effects are felt as congestion, longer and less reliable transit times, upward pressure on freight prices, and higher inventory levels. These impacts increase the cost of doing business and the cost of living and result in a less productive and competitive economy. A set of performance measures for the U.S. freight transportation system is important for assessing the condition of that system, identifying its problems, prioritizing actions to resolve those problems, and measuring the effectiveness of the remedial actions.

Under NCFRP Project 03, Gordon Proctor & Associates reviewed current work on performance measures, identified freight transportation performance issues important to stakeholders, and, on the basis of this research, developed a framework for measuring the performance of the freight transportation system, subsystems, and components. The framework includes a Freight System Report Card, which is structured as a modified Balanced Scorecard and includes 29 performance measures in 6 categories. The performance measures and Freight System Report Card reflect local, regional, national, and global perspectives and are intended to serve as a resource for a range of stakeholders, both public and private, who need to make investment, operations, and policy decisions.