E-commerce to cause major shake-up of world transport

June 28, 2001

New Australian research is predicting that the increasing global uptake of e-business will be the most significant force for change in transport worldwide over the next decade, surpassing rising petrol prices and reduced oil availability.

Australia's national research agency, CSIRO and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have just completed the research for the National Transport Secretariat and the Queensland Department of Public Works.

The e-commerce purchasing revolution is expected to see global sales revenues from Internet business reach as much as US$1300billion by 2003 from virtually zero five years ago.

"e-commerce is allowing customers and businesses to access products from anywhere in the world and is also creating increasing expectations for 'right now' deliveries," says Professor Luis Ferreira, QUT School of Civil Engineering.

"The result could be a 50 per cent increase in intercity freight trips and a potential 50-100 per cent increase in the kilometres travelled by light commercial vehicles in the major cities," he says.

The research team also found that by 2005, e-commerce could generate a 16 per cent increase in domestic aircraft movements and 7 per cent increase in total aircraft movements.

Professor Ferreira also warns that the rapid uptake of e-commerce could change the transport industry as more business goes to companies able to handle the entire supply chain, interconnectivity between customers and operators become critical to business success and customer expectations drive an increased demand for more flexible, fragmented and on-demand transport services.

"These changes are going to place pressure on the transport system in areas such as congestion, emissions, noise and urban amenity. There is also the potential for the transport system to act as a restraint on the capacity of businesses to access markets opened up by e-commerce," he says.

"The major challenge for state and federal governments will be to develop a pro-active response to these issues which balances the need to improve road and rail capacity and access to ports and airports with community and urban amenity needs."

"The world first research undertaken by QUT and CSIRO will help the Australian Transport Council of Ministers for Transport to develop a practical response to these issues as they are emerging," says Mr Paul Blake from the National Transport Secretariat.

"CSIRO is identifying new technologies and initiatives which complement the changes arising from e-business - for example CSIRO's new intelligent freight transport system (ITS connect) for Australia," says Dr Nariida Smith of CSIRO's Infrastructure Systems Engineering.

"ITS Connect provides for a new national freight system using smart technologies such as vehicle tracking devices and real-time information services linked to traffic management, freight dispatch systems and environmental management technologies," she says.

CSIRO Australia
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