Are city logistics solutions sustainable? The Cityporto case

  • Jesus Gonzalez-Feliu Laboratoire d’Economie des Transports ISH, Université Lumière Lyon 2
  • Joelle Morana Laboratoire d’Economie des Transports ISH, Université Lumière Lyon 2
Keywords: city logistics, freight distribution, sustainability


City logistics studies the best solutions for urban freight distribution with high environmental objectives. However, most actions are started by public authorities without taking into account the impacts of the new organizational schemas in the existing distribution enterprises’ organization.
This paper shows how city logistics approaches can meet the goals of Sustainable Development. In order to define the notion of sustainable city logistics, the main aspects of each sphere of sustainable development, respectively economic, environmental and societal, have been investigated. The main aspects of each sphere are described in order to unify the concept of sustainability related to city logistics. Then, we present the successful experience of Cityporto, the urban delivery service for the city of Padova (Italy), started in 2004 that uses low-pollution lorries. So, the service is considered as less polluting as a conventional approach, and is allowed to enter the city centre (including the Limited Traffic Zone) without hour limitations.
The study is based on the findings from an exploratory qualitative approach, based on a documentary analysis and a case study research from several interviews that involved three internal stakeholders of Interporto di Padova (the company which manages the intermodal platform of Padova, in charge of Cityporto) and one member of Padova’s Municipality (which promote the project).
The results of the case study show that environmental aspect is one of the foundations of the project, but the economic continuity has to be first ensured. Indeed, the preservation of this service on the long term is subjected to its solvency. Moreover, its success is associated to the recognition by employees and customers. With regard to the collected information, it is possible to propose a balanced scorecard, where three axes emerged in connexion with economic, environmental and social dimensions. From this qualitative analysis, a discussion about the sustainability of city logistics solutions is made as conclusion.
The article provides a contribution to the evaluation and measurement of city urban logistics using a success story that has been developed from the practitioner perspective. This experience could provide a basis for further practices in Italy and other European countries. Moreover, the relations between city logistics solutions and sustainability are conceptualised and illustrated by the case study, highlighting the main elements for sustainable performance identification and evaluation in this field.
In conclusion, this paper conceptualises city logistics in relation with the Sustainable Development, setting the main objectives and steps of urban planning for freight distribution and logistics issues. But above all, it provides an understanding of the key success factors in a sustainable urban distribution organisation that can become a pivotal position in the upstream supply chain.


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Author Biographies

Jesus Gonzalez-Feliu, Laboratoire d’Economie des Transports ISH, Université Lumière Lyon 2

Jesus Gonzalez-Feliu is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the French National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS), and member of the Laboratoire d'Economie des Transports (LET). He obtained his Civil Engineering Master’s degree in 2003 at INSA Lyon (France) and passed his Ph.D. in operations research in 2008 at Politecnico di Torino (Italy). His PhD thesis deals with urban freight distribution solutions and two-echelon vehicle routing problems. His research interests include city logistics planning and policy, decision support systems, transportation systems optimisation and performance, sustainable supply chain management, and collaborative transportation.

Joelle Morana, Laboratoire d’Economie des Transports ISH, Université Lumière Lyon 2

Joëlle Morana is an Assistant Professor of Financial Control, Logistics and Strategy at the University Lyon 2 (France), and member of the Laboratoire d’Economie des Transports (LET). Her research interests include performance management in a logistical context, Supply Chain Management strategy and information systems. She has published several papers on these topics. More details about her career are available at


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How to Cite
Gonzalez-FeliuJ., & MoranaJ. (2011). Are city logistics solutions sustainable? The Cityporto case. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 3.