Virtual loading bays aim to reduce PCNs and boost uptake of cleaner freight vehicles

A virtual loading bay that allows operators to pay for a timeslot to load/unload on restricted kerb space is to be trialled in Wandsworth, south-west London.

The Kerb Virtual Parking System (VPS) is one of a series of projects aimed at improving the transport, energy and infrastructure of cities as part of Innovate UK’s £19m First of a Kind Deployment competition.

Grid Smarter Cities, which designed the website, said the system will allow drivers to park closely to their delivery point without causing congestion or running the risk of receiving a penalty charge notice (PCN).

Local authorities will decide the fee and which locations are to be used. These can be vehicle- and time-specific to  help nudge behaviour into off-peak periods and to prioritise low-emission vehicles, for example.

This can help local authorities manage poor air quality hotspots, incentivise the use of cleaner delivery vehicles, and improve traffic flow across the borough.

Cost benefits

Grid Smarter Cities added that Kerb VPS will slash costs associated with administering and receiving PCNs for both councils and operators, as well as reduce fuel through more optimised deliveries and better multi-drop planning capability.

Other benefits include bookable rapid chargers in reserved bays and access to previously difficult-to-reach locations.

“There is overwhelming support for such a solution with significant environmental and economic benefits for commercial vehicle operators and local authorities in the adoption of the solution in comparison with the existing regime of PCNs for illegal parking, which is currently ‘stick with no carrot’,” the Innovate UK project proposal stated.

TfL Road Network is running the trial in Wandsworth, focusing on high-density loading ‘hotspots’.

Deliveries to car boots

Another delivery idea being trialled under the Innovate scheme is the ‘Car as a Delivery Service’ concept for urban last-mile deliveries.

Car Tap uses a smartphone app to enable consumers to have online goods delivered straight to their car boot using secure keyless vehicle access technology.

This system aims to reduce wasted mileage of redeliveries, but also spread deliveries around the clock to lessen the demand on roads during peak times.

A trial will take place to allow 100 customers of Farmaround to receive deliveries of organic boxes.

ITM Power has also received funding from Innovate to convert electricity to hydrogen at a mass scale to make it more affordable as fuel, while Zapinamo will extend its trials of its rapid and mobile charging for electric vehicles.