A Data-Driven Case Study Following the Implementation of an Adaptive Traffic Control System in Midtown Manhattan

Diego Correa, John C. Falcocchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper evaluated the congestion reduction benefits over a 6-year period from the implementation of an adaptive traffic control system (ATCS) in a congested area of Manhattan, New York, bounded by 2nd and 6th Avenues and 42nd and 57th Streets - known as the Midtown-in-Motion (MIM) area. A methodology using taxi Global Positioning System (GPS) sensors was used to measure traffic speed. Traffic speeds were calculated for May weekdays before the ATCS was installed (May 2011) and for each subsequent year (May 2012 to May 2016). Within 1 to 2 years after the implementation of the ATCS, the area's traffic speed increased on avenues and cross streets. This gain, however, could not be sustained in subsequent years because of intervening changes in key factors impacting traffic congestion. These factors included reduction in roadway space/capacity for motor vehicles, lack of effective traffic enforcement to maintain/protect available roadway capacity, increased vehicle miles traveled (VMT) from transportation network company vehicles, and increasing volume of bicycle trips sharing street space with vehicles/pedestrians. This paper's two key findings are, first, traffic speed gains initially seen in the MIM area after 1 year of ATCS implementation could not be sustained because intervening external factors reduced capacity and increased VMT. However, during the same analysis period, the rest of the Midtown Core area (without ATCS deployment) experienced a greater speed loss than the MIM area, indicating the effectiveness of ATCS deployment in minimizing losses in traffic speed. Second, to protect street network capacity and to minimize VMT growth, midtown Manhattan requires adopting proactive, collaborative, and coordinated strategies by the three key agencies involved with traffic management in New York City (NYC): the NYC Department of Transportation (traffic control system technology), the NYC Police Department (traffic enforcement), and the Mayor's office (traffic demand mitigation policies).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number05022001
JournalJournal of Transportation Engineering Part A: Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • Adaptive traffic control systems
  • Large-scale Global Positioning System (GPS) data analysis
  • New York City (NYC)
  • Taxi GPS data
  • Traffic speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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