London has always been a patchwork city – when you wrap modern life into a 2000-year-old city, it comes with the territory. The latest of these advances, the concert delivery economy, has seen what MyLondon has described as a ‘completely outlawed’ delivery scene. In fact, there are almost endless tensions between delivery services and this has a long-term impact on the courier and logistics industry in the capital. It is undoubtedly time to return to step one.
The challenge on London’s roads is competition. More and more delivery tasks are being done, yet the roads can only take so much. This has seen the increase in 24 hour delivery services on express premiums; this provides the most appropriate service to the customers while keeping traffic problems to a minimum. This is increasingly important with the rise of on-demand grocery apps like Yandex, which CNBC cites as a major competitor to conventional grocery delivery and a source of even greater road demand.
Of course, further problems have been created with the expansion of the congestion zone. Prices raised in June have been made permanent, according to the BBC, and now, with the extension of the congestion zone to a wider network of London, there is much more pressure on drivers. The exceptions are beneficial for even more night work, and especially with electric cars – 22:00 to 07:00 are the free hours.
A potential answer to all this is The Magway. The Evening Standard highlights how this system, using a series of magnetically driven pipes under the streets of London, could be a way of pushing goods around as needed without ever having to hit the roads. Once again, however, the night will come in and be crucial – maintenance of these theoretical tunnels would have to be done under cover of darkness given how extremely disturbing they would otherwise be.
In short, the delivery industry in London is going to thrive at night. The streets are becoming more and more crowded with private couriers and on-demand shipping. Changing how delivery companies think about their system, and how to get the most out of the current delivery ecosystem and consumer demands, is crucial to a future where delivery can remain on-demand and not be dominated by an overburdened London center.