Worsening Traffic Jams by Banning Trucks

Created: 06.June 2022

Traffic jam in plaguing many large cities. Recently, the strict enforcement of a ban of heavy goods vehicles into Kuala Lumpur was announced. Which will create even worse traffic jams. Here is why: this is likely to be the same flawed logic as what banks applied by cutting hours to reduce contact between people. However, the number of trucks is not going to be reduced, just shifted. If X equals the number of trucks on the road at a given time, V the total truck population and T is the time, then when T is reduced, X goes up. The trucks won’t go away, they are just being delayed and then added to the vehicles on the road at a later time. In essence, there will be MORE vehicles on the road outside the exclusion times.

As business people are after profits, they will ensure that the delivery takes place, with or without the ban. One solution is to send in smaller vehicles, which are still permitted. Instead of one heavy vehicle, there will now be four small ones to deliver the same volume. Maybe that means smaller profit margins, but it means goods are moving faster too.

The solution is not to re-schedule vehicles. What must be done is an elimination of vehicles. The ratio of one commercial vehicle to approximately 30 private cars is the problem. Would it make any difference if 100 trucks would be rescheduled? One can daresay: hardly. However, if 120 people took a bus, ditching their cars, that would make a lot more space on the road. It is the other type of commercial vehicle that needs to be deployed. What is needed is an order for about 5 000 buses in all shapes and forms. These buses need to be running frequently, dependable and between places that people need to and want to go to. With the addition of heavily enforced, dedicated bus lanes it will be a sure case of building it and they will come. As a net effect, the trucks will not get stuck in traffic either, further reducing emission, noise and congestion. 

Another way to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads is to increase their capacity. Today’s trucks have powerful engines and increasing the length of trailers would certainly not be a major issue for the prime mover. What we see in Europe is an increase of permissible trailer length by one to two Euro palette lengths. Assuming we add 2.4 meters of length to a trailer, that allows for up to 12 more palettes to be loaded! When we multiply this across fleet sizes and trips made to re-supply supermarkets, malls and depots, a significant amount of capacity will be added. And we may see fewer trucks on the road as each truck pulls more.

Similarly, we can increase the number of B-Double trailers to be put into action on long-haul routes. Again, the trucks would surely be able to pull them safely and efficiently. This would again increase the capacity while at the same time addressing the driver shortage.