Partnerships with Taxis and Delivery Trucks in New York City to Improve Safety and Mobility

The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) is currently in the design stage of the ground-breaking Connected Vehicle Pilot project.  The project will implement multiple Connected Vehicle safety-related applications in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, consistent with the City’s focus and dedication of resources to achieve its Vision Zero goal of reducing traffic-related injuries and fatalities to zero.  The project will also improve mobility and travel time reliability, and will reduce the environmental impact of vehicle traffic.  Taxis and delivery trucks will be among the major participants and project stakeholders.

This project will be the largest deployment of connected vehicles in the U.S. It will install hardware devices and high-speed radios in 8,000 vehicles, including 5,850 taxis that operate mostly in lower Manhattan, 1,250 buses operated by Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), 250 sanitation vehicles operated by the New York City Department of Sanitation, 250 NYCDOT fleet vehicles, and 400 United Parcel Service (UPS) delivery trucks. Similar capability will be provided via smartphone applications for 100 pedestrians and bicyclists (see Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program New York City Fact sheet). In addition, over 350 intersections in Manhattan and Brooklyn will be equipped with Roadside Units (RSUs) that will broadcast warning messages to equipped vehicles.  These devices and radios will enable ultra-fast vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication of safety and mobility related messages such as warnings for sudden braking ahead, red light violations, speed violations, and vehicles turning in front of buses. RSUs will also be deployed in the taxi waiting area at LaGuardia Airport, the location outside of Manhattan most frequently visited by taxis, to enable rapid software upgrades. 

Over half of the taxis in lower Manhattan will be equipped with these devices because the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) was receptive to participating in the project as a way to achieve the city’s Vision Zero goal and to gain a potential competitive advantage over recent competitors. The city’s taxi industry, like the taxi industry in many cities today, is facing the loss of a significant part of their on-demand travel market to ride-sharing services.  Moreover, the TLC determined that taxis could benefit from the added safety features and the prospect of shorter travel times that would come from the planned connected vehicle applications, and could benefit from the public relations that are built into the project.

NYCDOT is also partnering with UPS Inc. to provide connected vehicle instrumentation for 400 UPS delivery trucks.  UPS is the world’s largest packaged delivery company, based on a hub and spoke model.  For a company whose business is based on the operation of delivery trucks, the potential benefits of increased safety and reduced travel times bring an obvious cost savings.

The project began in 2015 when NYCDOT approached the TLC, MTA, UPS, and others to propose a large-scale deployment of connected vehicles.  The meeting included technical, operations, and legal personnel to address a wide range of issues, including device installation, maintenance requirements, operating hours, operator selection, geographic coverage areas, stakeholder responsibilities, system operation, driver interface, and data collection activities (see Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program Phase 1 Partnership Status Summary – New York City).  Based on a Memorandum of Understanding, TLC and UPS will provide vehicles and drivers, while NYCDOT will install and maintain the hardware/ software devices and will train the drivers.

The Connected Vehicle Pilot program was designed to encourage partnerships between the deploying agencies and commercial agencies, and in this case the partnership is on track to be a successful win-win situation for all parties.