Less traffic, more flexibility

Trento Municipality has launched TRENto YOU: a delivery service using electric vehicles that operates throughout the day in historic centre

The aim is to reduce the presence of vehicles and to extend the time slot in which operators in the historic centre can receive goods.

Over 550 consignments are collected daily from public and commercial enterprises within Trento’s restricted traffic zone. Add to this figure the deliveries for residents and offices. Therefore, to ease traffic congestion in the town’s historic center and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the Municipality of Trento – as part of the European project STARDUST – has decided to invest in last-mile logistics. It has thus created a warehouse, located outside the historic centre, which collects goods from “traditional” couriers and manages deliveries in the restricted traffic zone – with the unique feature of only using electric vehicles.

A survey was carried out involving a representative sample of commercial operators and public businesses in order to see how the service should be organised. The questionnaire showed that only 17 percent of those surveyed were completely satisfied with the application of time slots for the delivery of goods. “A large part of the operators stated that they receive goods outside the permitted time slots, noticing that permits such as residence in traffic-restricted zones (TRZ) were being exploited. In the case of large deliveries, operators ask couriers to enter the TRZ regardless of the time restrictions and bear the burden of fines”, explains Marco Cattani, director of Trentino Mobilità, the company that managed the survey and that now offers the delivery service using TRENto YOU electric vehicles.

“In order to understand how to structure this service and define the business model, we looked at good practices in other cities, such as Padua, Vicenza and La Rochelle in France”, says Alyona Zubaryeva, coordinator of the group working on mobility as part of the STARDUST project.

Based on the needs of the operators in the town’s historic centre, the authorities decided to adopt a “soft approach” to regulate access to the TRZ, as Valentina Benoni, head of the sustainable mobility office of the Municipality of Trento, explains: “The desire is to achieve the ambitious objectives set by European policies on CO2 reduction and sustainable mobility, but without creating conflicts. For this reason, instead of making delivery by electric vehicles compulsory, we have tried to incentivize it by offering operators the possibility of using the TRENto YOU service, which allows access to the TRZ regardless of the existing time restrictions”.

Six months after activating the service, TRENto YOU vans are now responsible for the provision of wine, food, and other supplies for the hospitably sector in the city centre. Other areas in which this new service could be used are the supply of non-perishable consumables, such as mineral water to restaurants which, because of their very small warehouses, are forced to have bottles of water delivered several times a day.

“The challenge is to fit into an already organised environment: traders, suppliers and couriers work on the basis of established agreements and procedures. It is not easy to disrupt processes that work well in order to propose something new, but the satisfaction of those who have tried the service gives us confidence that we are moving in the right direction,” concludes Cattani.