LOWER MANHATTAN, N.Y. (PIX11) — E-commerce deliveries have increased significantly since the pandemic, and so has street traffic related to the deliveries of goods from companies like FedEx, UPS, Amazon and others, which move items purchased online to customers’ homes.

In the interest of reducing the street traffic, which most heavily affects parts of Manhattan, the borough president, Mark Levine, has issued a new proposal to handle e-commerce traffic differently. 

According to Levine’s report and accompanying video, e-commerce deliveries have increased to 2.4 million boxes per day in the five boroughs from 1.5 million in 2018.

“That’s not going away,” Borough President Levine said in an interview on Wednesday. “E-commerce is here. We’ve got to adapt.”

His plan, titled Campaign to Curb Congestion, has more than a dozen proposals, Levine said, to decrease the traffic volume that builds up when delivery vehicles move parcels from larger vehicles to curbside or in-the-street locations for final distribution. 

The goal, he said, is to “get a lot of that processing work off the streets, maybe to parking garages,” which could be covered by off-street mini-distribution centers.

Sam Schwartz, founder of the transportation engineering firm that bears his name, and the former New York City transportation commissioner, said in an interview that doing something about the problem is vital. However, he added, some ideas are better than others. 
A case in point, said Schwartz, is the parking lot proposal.

“Most trucks won’t fit in garages,” he said in an interview. “in fact, there are some SUVs that don’t fit in garages,” he continued. “But it does make sense where there may be some open lots, and trucks can pull in.”

Schwartz, who literally invented the word “gridlock,” said that, compared to pre-pandemic traffic levels, overall truck traffic is at 112 percent, or 12 percent more than it had been in 2019. He said that that means traffic is worse than it’s ever been.

Another analysis, carried out by transportation consultant Charles Komanoff for a City Council report, showed that the increased traffic is costing New Yorkers about $400 million per year in lost time.  

Levine said his plan is the first step in a process that must include city council members and state legislators. He also noted that many of them have expressed an interest in making changes to get traffic flowing more freely.

He also added that he’s convinced that such changes could benefit e-commerce companies and New York City residents.

For its part, FedEx made a statement about the situation through a spokesperson:

Parking limitations in congested metropolitan areas like NYC create challenges as we strive to meet our daily customer commitments. FedEx remains willing to discuss potential resolutions to parking restraints and is always open to collaboration with municipalities addressing this issue.

A UPS spokesperson also commented on this story:

UPS is working with cities around the world to improve quality of life while meeting the needs of our customers. Just as each city is unique, their underlying congestion issues are just as varied, and we are constantly looking at plans, in New York City and elsewhere, to reduce congestion tailored to fit their specific needs.

PIX11 News also reached out to Amazon, the largest e-commerce company in the United States. At this point, the company has not responded to our request for comment.