The Data-Driven Key to Unlocking New York's Congestion

Wired profiles Charles Komanoff, who's hoping to use his immense spreadsheet of New York City traffic data to clear the city's congestion.

Komanoff's been trying to measure how traffic affects the city and its people, from time lost to money spent. He also has an eye on how understanding the patterns of transportation in the city can help improve its flows.

"Komanoff will use this interview to inform his magnum opus, the Balanced Transportation Analyzer, an enormous Excel spreadsheet that he's been building for the past three years. Over the course of about 50 worksheets, the BTA breaks down every aspect of New York City transportation-subway revenues, traffic jams, noise pollution-in an attempt to discover which mix of tolls and surcharges would create the greatest benefit for the largest number of people.

Komanoff's spreadsheet, which he has posted online, calculates how new fees and changes to existing tolls affect traffic at different times of day. It calculates which costs are borne by city dwellers and which by suburbanites. It calculates how long it takes passengers to dig for change and board buses. And it allows any user to adjust dozens of different variables-from taxi surcharges to truck tolls-and measure their impact. The result is a kind of statistical SimCity, an opportunity to play God (or at least Robert Moses) and devise the perfect traffic policy."

Full Story: The Man Who Could Unsnarl Manhattan Traffic


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