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Mobility Hub Concept & Return on Community (RoC) – A brief sustainable framework for common carrier parcel locker networks

- May 6, 2019

“Common carrier lockers are consistent with the mobility hub concept and are a potential tool for mitigating the challenges of Final 50 Feet delivery—most urgently, the need to reduce both dwell time (the time a truck is parked in a load/unload space in the city) and the number of failed first delivery attempts.”


Deep (or strong) sustainability is defined as socially inclusivity and ecological integrity. Otherwise known as a survival ecosystem where the natural capital of earth’s resources is owned in common, that is public or communal ownership, together with institutions which comprise society (i.e. socially inclusive), hence Return on Community. This point can be extended to include, first, future generations of individuals (imperative for leaving behind a healthy world in good physical condition for our children, their children and so forth) with supportive institutions and, second, sentient beings along with natural things other than humans. Fundamentally, a community is not a shareholder’s or corporation’s claim, but a shared resource and thedefining relationship with nature. There’s no necessary relationship between the physical capital maintenance of natural capital, and the principle goals for the good of the community, along with the monetary valuation that gives rise to financial capital with respect to natural capital. In other words, the market valuation currently does not and cannot account for the finite nature of all resources. 

We can develop, using a similar methodology, a sustainable adaptation of the current “last mile” delivery system (individual receipt), to a dynamic, mobile hub concept–for large scale and micro-hubs–with an embedded return on community. The one-size-fits-all approach to solving the unsustainable expansion of global ecommerce fails several tests: delivery density, agnostic carrier network, shared economy, GHG emissions, first delivery success, and other long-term system requirements such as a critical factor for smart city and transportation goals. Mobility hubs are part of a people-centered approach to public spaces known as placemaking. They aim to create a one-stop shop of sorts for multiple modes of transportation, bicycles, ride sharing, and public transportation. Similar to exploring other options rather than the single-occupant vehicle, we consider locker networks as a multi-use, multi-carrier (i.e. carrier agnostic), connected public space with community value-add amenities and services. With sustainability comes more vibrant cityscapes, more vibrant social life and activities for healthier living.

Public Property = Public multi-carrier Lockers 


  • offer reliable parcel storage 
  • facilitate deliveries and returns 
  • facilitate off-peak-hour deliveries 
  • offer consolidated deliveries 
  • offer flexible hours of operation 
  • offer label printing stations on-site, for returns 

Design and operational considerations: 

  •  cannot be limited to use by just one delivery company (single carrier) 
  • have design limitations around locker number and sizes (fixed capacity) 
  • require maintenance 
  • integrated technologies with regulatory and compliance standards

“Research in the Urban Freight Lab in the Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center at the University of Washington has shown that dense, mini-distribution nodes are likely to be an effective strategy for mitigating these Final 50 Feet challenges. (1) Creating ways to receive goods in these dense mini-distribution nodes can help eliminate the time-consuming process inherent in a traditional system where deliveries are made one-by-one, door-to-door to individual consumers. Seattle’s first Freight Master Plan, for its part, echoes the notion of dense, mini-distribution nodes, calling for the city to study the feasibility of creating “urban consolidation centers, joint distribution centers, or local building logistics centers.” (2)”

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