A Courier Service with Electric Bicycles in an Urban Area: The Case in Seoul
Various factors must be considered when running a courier service in an urban area, because the infrastructure of a city differs from those in suburban or countryside areas. Of note, population density is higher, and vehicles encounter greater restrictions. Moreover, air pollution from fossil fuel combustion is more severe. As tailpipe emissions are becoming costly to both corporations and the environment, researchers are increasingly exploring more appealing transportation options. Electric bicycles have become an important mode of transportation in some countries in the past decade. Electric bicycles and automobiles have their respective merits and demerits when used to provide courier services. E-bikes in particular can ply their trade in densely packed areas that are off-limits to cars and trucks. This paper focuses on (1) developing a truck–bike mixture model to reduce operating costs for an existing truck-only service by replacing some of the trucks with bicycles, and (2) exploring the resulting effects in terms of reducing overall carbon emissions. Data from one of the major courier companies in South Korea were utilized. The problem was tackled as a heterogeneous fleet vehicle routing problem using simulated annealing because the actual size of the problem cannot be solved directly with a mathematical approach. The most effective fleet mix was found for the company’s case. Effects on operating costs and reduced emissions were analyzed for 15 different scenarios with varying demands and off-limits areas. Computational results revealed that the new model is viable from economic and sustainability standpoints. They indicated that costs decrease to varying degrees in all scenarios, and that carbon emissions also decrease by around 10% regardless of the selected scenario.
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