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Behavioral-Based (or Agent-Based) National Freight Demand Modeling

Project Information

Project ID: 
Project Status: 
Start Date: 
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
End Date: 
Sunday, May 31, 2020
FHWA Program: 
Exploratory Advanced Research
FHWA Subprogram: 
Freight Management and Operations
TRT Terms: 
Behavior; Supply chain management; Logistics; Less than truckload traffic; Truck traffic; Procurement; Market research; Production; Consumption; Freight; Freight traffic
FHWA Discipline: 
Subject Area: 
Freight Transportation, Policy, Economics

Contact Information

First Name: 
Last Name: 
(404) 895-6215
Email Address: 
Office of Freight Management
Office of Operations
Office Code: 

Project Details

Project Description: 

Freight demand modeling in the United States would benefit from recognizing economic and business relationships across all industries and firms that are either doing business in the United States currently or might do business in the United States under optimal conditions in the future. This, of course, potentially affects all or most firms across the globe. This research will focus on modeling the aspects of this system at an appropriate level of detail for the analysis of freight in the United States. This will include the following: Firm Synthesis: this will include all firms in the United States at the county level, firms in North America at the province level, Mexican states, and all remaining international countries. Firm synthesis will estimate annual production and consumption based on employment, economic input/output tables, unit prices and tariffs, growth, and productivity factors. Transportation and Logistics Supply Chain Models: This will consider road, rail, air, water, and pipeline modal networks, with costs for transport, transfer, and, storage. These models will estimate modes, transfer locations, shipment size, and annual frequency. Modal networks are focused on the United States, with limited detail in the remainder of North America. Procurement Market Models: This will consider the service attributes and costs for firm buyers when selecting firm suppliers to produce the goods they require. Buyers and sellers are represented as agents in a matching game that recognizes the economics of these business relationships. The buyer/seller matching game includes international and domestic firms so that competition and changes in economic conditions or infrastructure outside the United States are also considered. Truck Movement Models: This will evaluate types of carriers (e.g., truckload and less-than truckload) for each truckload as well as opportunities for load consolidation and necessities for backhauling. Different carriers have different characteristics of travel, which affect the truck movements from seller to buyer.


The overall objective of this research is to demonstrate novel approaches for the development of a national-level, disaggregated, behavioral-based, and multimodal freight demand modeling tool; these approaches should provide a significant enhancement over current methods for evaluating freight policy alternatives and their impacts.