Characterization and analysis of metropolitan freight patterns in Medellin, Colombia
Journal article, 2018

This paper seeks to pilot test a novel way to collect freight and service activity data and analyze the collected data in the metropolitan area of Medellin, Colombia. This research collects data using a multi-layer and multi-actor approach that includes surveys to receivers, suppliers, carriers, and truck drivers. The data are used by the authors to describe the overall freight patterns in the area of study and to show lessons learned. The data collection resulted in 2947 establishments (4.4% of the total establishments in the city), a cordon survey of 2950 commercial vehicles (17% of the total vehicle volume) accessing the urban area, and carrier interviews to ten companies and 130 truck drivers. The results indicate that a total of 33,274 metric tons/day enter the study area, 35,240 tons/day leave the area; while 7000 tons/day are distributed in the study area. In terms of freight trips, 6600 trips/day enter the study zone and 6600 trips/day leave it. The data collection effort enabled the analyses of freight generation patterns. The freight surveys used in the study complement each other, and provided a good depiction of the freight movements in urban areas. It was found that in the Medellin Metropolitan Area, freight-intensive sector establishments generates, on average, significantly more cargo (freight attraction plus production) than the service-intensive sectors. The analyses of the surveys allow the decision makers to understand the nature of the cargo and the generation patterns in different type of establishments. This characterization of the freight patterns is vital for the forecasting of the behavior of the cargo and it is the main input to perform freight demand modeling for city planning, especially for developing countries, where there are too many budget constraints.

Cordon survey

Urban freight

Establishments' survey

Urban freight patterns


Carlos A. Gonzalez-Calderon

National University of Colombia

Ivan Sanchez-Diaz

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Service Management and Logistics

Ivan Sarmiento-Ordosgoitia

National University of Colombia

Jose Holguin-Veras

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

European Transport Research Review

1867-0717 (ISSN) 1866-8887 (eISSN)

Vol. 10 2 23

Gothenburg Urban Freight Platform

VREF, 2014-02-01 -- 2019-12-31.

Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Transport Systems and Logistics



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