Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

Urban Freight Case Studies - New York City


New York City has made strides in improving the operation of its goods movement system. The following strategies and practices identified in this case study can be implemented in other areas around the country.

  • Develop a pricing strategy to accelerate the turnover rate of commercial parking spaces. This strategy can be implemented with Muni-meters or with existing single-space meters.
  • Implement time-of-day restrictions on parking spaces. A time limit may be established to increase turnover, as is done in Manhattan. For jurisdictions only experiencing commercial vehicle parking issues during certain time periods, time-of-day restrictions may be implemented allowing general use during non-peak hours.
  • Enforced time restrictions can help clear spaces more quickly. NYCDOT learned that simply reserving sufficient parking for commercial vehicles does not completely solve the problem. Enforcement is an important component of a successful curbside management program.
  • Reserve spaces for commercial vehicles. Smaller jurisdictions may want to consider designating several blocks or even individual spaces for commercial vehicles by erecting parking restriction signs.
  • Conduct freight studies. Although New York City required substantial resources to conduct studies and implement recommendations, this does not have to be the case for other jurisdictions wishing to improve goods movement. Jurisdictions can select any combination of the data collection techniques and analysis tools used by NYCDOT to analyze their truck route network. Jurisdictions also may conduct field observations of roadways with high truck volumes, land-use patterns, and the location of truck-generating activities.
  • A stakeholder group should be set up early in the study. NYCDOT realized early in the study process that it could not implement solutions without the coordination and support of many regulatory agencies and stakeholders.
  • Consider truck route changes. In some cases where truck routes do not already exist, stakeholder concerns, truck volumes, land use patterns and other information may warrant the designation of a portion or all of a roadway as a truck route. In other cases, truck restrictions and other improvements may be sufficient. By implementing regulations, such as nighttime restrictions in residential areas, agencies can help improve the quality of life for area residents while minimizing impacts on the pickup and delivery of goods.
  • Benefits to commercial vehicles and communities must be balanced.
  • Multi-jurisdictional coordination needed. Although the study was limited to New York City, multi-jurisdictional coordination was needed between each of the five boroughs. The need to continue truck routes through to the next borough could be applied to truck routes crossing city, county, or state boundaries. This study helped bring together officials from each of the boroughs to look at the freight system in its entirety. Multi-jurisdictional coordination helped to identify discontinuous truck route locations, realign existing routes, and propose delineation of new truck routes. Coordination among regulatory agencies also was needed to maintain regulatory control over truck handling facilities. Other jurisdictions could benefit from initiating coordination between these agencies and individuals. The creation of a centralized freight office or the establishment of a task force will help with coordination.
  • Consider adequate signage, including consistency of design, and place a high priority on freight operations. For those currently maintaining a system of designated truck routes, adequate signage should be considered a high priority. NYCDOT determined that strategies such as consistent design and placement of signs are important characteristics of an effective signage system.
  • Dissemination of information is an extremely important component of any goods movement educational program. Any city that maintains a system of designated truck routes should offer some level of educational programs similar to those of New York City. These cost-effective tools can help commercial vehicle operators, enforcement officials, business owners and the general public understand the truck route designations as well as the importance of restrictions.
  • Opposition to truck route restrictions may be overcome with simple educational tools. By developing an educational program that considers the issues raised by concerned stakeholders, freight planning and operations staff can help minimize resistance and even foster support for the truck route system.
  • It is important to understand how trucks are moving through an area and what can be done to improve the efficiency of truck movements while minimizing their impact on the environment.

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