An increasing number of French people are making their purchases online: 41.8 million in 2021. This boom in e-commerce is creating new constraints for cities, while stimulating innovation in urban logistics.
Operators are competing with each other to be more inventive in their solutions to mitigate the disruption caused by the increased number of deliveries in cities. In Hong Kong, e-commerce giant YesAsia is playing the vertical card, with a 24-floor smart logistics centre, the Goodman Interlink, which meets the dual requirement of reducing the footprint of the warehouses and achieving zero net land-take. In Paris, RATP Group favours the sharing route, and RATP Logistics offers partners such as Chronopost and Amazon the use of the platforms in its bus depots, which are unoccupied during the day, to transfer goods to light, non-polluting delivery vehicles.
"Cities have a new issue to contend with – last mile delivery."
Why are urban logistics a major challenge for cities?
V.B. City dwellers’ habits have changed significantly, including how they consume goods and services. Due to the boom in e-commerce, deliveries to city centres have increased exponentially, along with all the accompanying downsides, notably in terms of pollution. Although cities have made considerable efforts to discourage private car use, these days they have a new issue to contend with – last mile delivery.
How can we meet this challenge?
V.B. One solution is to create logistics micro-hubs, so that a larger volume of goods can be brought closer to service areas. Delivery itineraries can then be organised efficiently from these hubs, with light-duty and decarbonised vehicles (e.g. electric cargo bikes) delivering packages to consumers. In this way, fewer deliveries will be made by diesel trucks. RATP Group holds land parcels in Paris suitable for such activities, and owns sites that can be developed for mixed use – a rare asset in the heart of the city.
What does this mean?
V.B. RATP Group has chosen to innovate by making available industrial sites, in particular bus depots, which are only partially occupied during the day. Take for example the Corentin bus depot (Porte d’Orléans, 14tharrondissement of Paris), where 200 buses are parked at night. It hosts logistics operations over a 600m² site during the day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., whereas city space is scarce. We are placing sites that were once entirely dedicated to transport at the service of the city and its new traffic.
By making it possible for logistics companies to share the time and use of our sites, RATP Group applies the concept of chronotopy, which aims to combine time (chronos) with space (topos), so that several types of users and uses can operate on rotation in a single place. The area therefore serves various functions, depending on the time of the day.
This allows our clients, Amazon, Chronopost and Ecolotrans to make their transition to sustainable urban mobility.
The health crisis has changed the way we view workplaces and has given rise to new concepts such as “corpoworking”, which combines creativity and a friendly work environment. There are no allocated offices and the resulting mix stimulates discussion: the formula encourages open innovation and is winning over companies.
Reinventing workplaces in the face of health crises also means creating atypical and welcoming facilities in the heart of the city which are no longer the preserve of nomadic freelancers, but are also aimed at companies and their employees. In Paris, RATP Real Estate offers event and corpoworking facilities under its Urban Station brand, located on RATP industrial sites that have been refurbished to provide offices and meeting rooms. The first workplaces opened in early 2022 in the 10th arrondissement of Paris in the Petites-Écuries substation, which supplies electricity to RER line B. Attracted by the flexibility of the contract offered, a very quick move-in time and a strategic location in the heart of Paris, Joone, a company specialising in hygiene and healthcare products that employs around 50 people, moved into the premises for a period of 16 months.