Photo: Corbis
Sustainable Urban Freight Systems (SUFS), Troy, USA

A Centre of Excellence for freight in urban transport

Elliot Sclar

“The fundamental quest of the Center for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems is one of behavior modification: to change the idea of urban freight systems from one driven by profit maximization to one that accounts for the externalities produced," said Holguín-Veras, also the director of the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment within the Rensselaer School of Engineering. “Our research team will use technology, public policy, and proactive engagement of the private sector as building blocks to design and implement actionable strategies to transform and push forward the leading edge of urban freight systems."

The Sustainable Urban Freight Systems (SUFS) is a collaboration of the world´s six leading urban freight research groups forming the Core Research Partners to collectively transform urban freight systems and partner with a City Advisory Board, an Industry Advisory Group and Associate Research Centers.

Transforming the Urban Freight Systems (UFS) requires a global effort of research, capacity building, and institutional change, best done in collaboration with other agents of change.
The goal is to jumpstart an integrative and participatory process — involving cities, private sector, and researchers — that leads to the implementation of sustainable UFS paradigms that increase quality of life, economic efficiency, and address environ-mental justice. Such a holistic goal ensures that all key impacts are considered, as focusing on only one aspect could make things worse in the others.

The fundamental quest of SUFS is to change the course of the UFS from one driven by profit maximization to one that accounts for the externalities produced. The work will proceed along four thrusts:

  • Needs assessment to identify education and research needs  of cities
  • Research to address short and long-term research needs of cities in the areas of freight behavior, advanced modeling of UFS operations, innovative strategic modeling of UFS, and UFS policy
  • Implementation to establish mecchanisms for stakeholder engagement and undertake joint public-private sector actions, to bring to reality the transformation of UFS stated in the CoE goal
  • Education to build (local) professional and research capacity to help cities address UFS issues.

Host organisation:
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

October 2019
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The current Call is mainly directed to sub-Saharan university-based researchers with expertise on sustainable and equitable mobility and access in sub-Saharan African cities, and/or previously engaged in transport-related research, and strongly interested in carrying out interdisciplinary research on issues related to sustainable and equitable mobility and access,

Call open until 2019-10-15


The VREF invites PhD students and researchers in early stages of their career to apply for a Study Visit Grant to be supported with up to SEK 30 000.

Invitation open until 2019-10-31

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About VREF

The Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) inspires, initiates and supports research and educational activities through the Future Urban Transport Programme - How to deal with the complexity of urban transport (FUT). 

Our Vision: Sustainable transport for equitable access in urban areas

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