Advances and changes in logistics distribution also are important. One can expect similar levels of murkiness from freight transport — a transition that will be influenced by enhanced graphical interfaces, 3-D printing, and changes in freight delivery. The less that is fetched, the more that is delivered. Stuff needs to get in the hands of consumers. While most people shun trucks and delivery vehicles, potato chips still need to get on the shelf of the food store or your home somehow, as the immaculate conception of deep fried crisps has yet to be discovered. The amount of freight moved by various modes plummeted during the recent recession. Now truck travel appears to be generally slowly on the rise , even at the per capita level, in the US.
The US currently has three national networks (USPS, UPS, FedEx) delivering stuff to consumers in ways that are cost effective for many goods. Specialty services are on top of this—local stores and restaurants that deliver their own products (furniture, appliances, grocers, newspapers, milk, pizza), and one can certainly imagine others emerging.
New delivery models are available and coming. For the “last mile” connecting the home with the final distribution point, new models include:
- lockers (akin to PO Boxes) where stuff can be deposited for you to collect,
- peer-to-peer delivery services (friends or strangers will pick up goods for you and deliver them to your home or workplace),
- firms depositing goods directly in the trunk of your car while you work,
- deliveries of small packages by drone, and
- neighborhood refrigerators for grocery dropoff.
From Levinson and Krizek (2015) The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport.
Figure 3.6 Source: US Bureau of Transportation Statistics National Transportation Statistics
Table 1-50: U.S. Ton-Miles of Freight (BTS Special Tabulation) (Millions) .