Transport for New South Wales

New research shows the benefits of the Goulburn Street Courier Hub Trial outweigh the costs, positively impacting NSW communities.

The Courier Hub Trial

SGS recently worked with Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) to evaluate the Goulburn Street Courier Hub. This evaluation examined the Hub’s delivery process, as well as the outcomes, costs and benefits generated.

The Hub has been trialled by TfNSW and the City of Sydney since 2015. Under the trial:

  • The Hub functions as an open access, shared space for multiple operators to use as an interchange point for making deliveries around the CBD by vehicular and/or active travel modes.
  • The facility is small, around 125 square metres, providing short-term parking for vehicles and secure storage.
  • Couriers can utilise the Hub while retaining the use of their own organisational processes and systems. That is, a separate system for managing Hub operations was considered unnecessary.

The Hub was trialled to provide a solution for managing freight demand and freight vehicle congestion in the CBD. Both were escalating rapidly, reflecting CBD population and employment growth (more freight users), greater propensities for online shopping (more freight deliveries per user), CBD loading bay reductions (delivery vehicle parking spaces are scarcer), and the construction of major transport projects in the CBD (vehicle movements hampered during construction).

Clear benefits realisation

While freight volumes through the Hub have fluctuated over time, the Hub has enabled many last-mile deliveries to switch from delivery vehicles to active transport modes, primarily courier bikes. The evaluation estimated:

  • The parcel numbers and delivery van drops moving through the Hub, and
  • How this translated into delivery vehicle travel and time savings throughout the CBD.

The benefits of this switch flow through to:

  • Reduced vehicle operating costs and CO2 emissions
  • Reduced pressures on CBD loading zone occupancy
  • Reduced infrastructure provisioning and maintenance requirements
  • Improved health outcomes from active transport, and
  • Improved CBD amenity.

While the Hub was planned as a ‘proof of concept’ trial, its operations have been extended multiple times, reflecting the tangible benefits generated for Hub users and the broader community.

A cost-benefit analysis of the Hub suggests that the benefits generated outweigh the costs considerably. This remains the case if underlying assumptions vary materially, enabling TfNSW and the City of Sydney to confidently claim that the Hub generates net benefits for the NSW community.

Lessons for the future

Lessons from the trial that inform the design and delivery of future last-mile freight hubs include:

  • Flexibility in budgeting is beneficial to be able to respond to issues and innovations as they emerge using the facility over time.
  • Shifts to new active travel modes (such as electric bikes or larger cargo bikes) may require additional supporting infrastructure, such as charging stations.
  • A larger space than the current 125 square metres may be beneficial – particularly in terms of storage and the types of vehicles that can physically access the space.
  • Future locations for hubs will need to be in relatively dense areas to be viable for use by businesses. However, future locations also need to consider the whole delivery system for businesses, including the ease of entering and exiting the CBD and access to bike paths, as well as proximity to end delivery points.
  • It is important to work with businesses to understand their needs and overcome barriers to uptake (which are not necessarily related to the physical features of the Hub).

Once TfNSW makes the final report publicly available, we will provide a link to the report via this page.

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