Tandon Team Helps Solve NYC’s Traffic Woes

Research Wins a Franz Edelman Finalist Award

Traffic on street

If you have ever been stuck on a Manhattan street behind a massive truck, double-parked as its driver ferries an endless stream of cartons into a supermarket, you might feel you can vouch for the eye-popping statistic: some 97,000 trucks and commercial vehicles cross New York City’s boroughs each day, with 25,000 of those specifically going in and out of Manhattan.

A team of NYU researchers, headed by Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering Kaan Ozbay, was part of a consortium (led by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) studying the potential of an ambitious initiative called the Off-Hour Deliveries Program. Originally launched by the U.S. Department of Transportation and implemented and refined by the NYC DOT, the program calls upon participating businesses to shift their delivery windows to between 7 pm and 6 am, once rush hour traffic has dissipated and the city streets become less congested.

Benefits were apparent immediately. Accepting fewer deliveries during usual business hours allowed stores to focus more on customer service, decreased fuel costs for carriers, enabled drivers to make more deliveries in a shorter period of time, reduced parking violations, and more.

Ozbay’s team contributed to modeling and measuring the traffic impact of the program, and the team’s research recently garnered a Franz Edelman Finalist Award, a prestigious prize administered by the global Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

The Edelman competition highlights the contributions of operations research and analytics in public and private sectors, and according to the group, the cumulative benefits from Edelman finalist projects have topped the $250 billion mark. “Edelman finalist teams have improved organizational efficiency, increased profits, [and] brought better products to consumers,” the organization asserts. In the case of the Off-Hour Deliveries Program, it might just also make life in the city measurably better for anyway who crosses a busy street or navigates behind the wheel.