New York

Overview of TIM Program

New York is a home rule state, which means that local jurisdictions have primary control, particularly as it relates to emergency and incident management. In 2008, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) formed the New York State TIM Steering Committee. This steering committee consists of members of various New York State agencies representing incident responders and some private entities with a vested interest in TIM. The primary goal of the committee is to create a standard TIM program that can be implemented statewide.[1] The steering committee has developed guidelines to help responders develop TIM programs in their jurisdictions.

In 1994, NYSDOT established the Highway Emergency Local Patrol (HELP) program to assist stranded motorists and vehicles. As of 2016, one hundred HELP trucks operate on 1,485 miles of major roads in six of eleven regions throughout the state (Figure 1):  Albany (1), Rochester (4), Buffalo (5), Lower Hudson Valley (8), Long Island (10), and New York City (11).[2] The HELP program primarily operates during peak travel times, and each patrol is managed and coordinated by the local transportation management centers (TMCs).[3]

 

Figure 1. New York State Department of Transportation Regions

Figure 1. New York State Department of Transportation Regions 

Data Collection and Management

In the regions that have a HELP program, the HELP drivers provide the majority of incident information to the TMCs. In most cases, HELP drivers contact the TMC when they come across an incident; however, as a means of improving data collection for roadway clearance time (RCT) and incident clearance time (ICT), the NYSDOT provided funding to provide the Hudson Valley HELP trucks with mobile data terminals (MDTs) that are connected to the TMC to record incident information. With these devices, when the Hudson Valley HELP personnel arrive to assist a stranded motorist, they are able to electronically input data and information regarding the incident from the field. The data entered on the MDTs are automatically populated into the database at the TMC. These data can then be cross-referenced to NYSDOT operator logs. The use of this same system by various agencies across all regions facilitates access to data for analysis.

The Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition (NITTEC) in Buffalo has shown success with integrating multiple data sources. From the TMC, NITTEC operators see both their incident entry screen and the HELP activity log, as seen in Figure 2. The TMC data entry screen contains data elements for the entire incident timeline, as well as a checkbox for secondary incidents. This screen also allows operators to note the roadway, number of lanes blocked, and the incident severity level, all important data elements for conducting disaggregate TIM performance analyses.

Figure 2. Traffic Incident Management Performance Data Elements on Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition Traffic Operations Center Incident Entry Screen

Figure 2. Traffic Incident Management Performance Data Elements* on Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition Traffic Operations Center Incident Entry Screen

*Data elements required for the national TIM performance measures are shown in red, data elements desirable for conducting a more refined analysis are shown in blue.

Benefits of TIM Performance Measurement

Having data on RCT and ICT has provided NYSDOT with the ability to measure the benefits of the HELP program and to prove that it was a good investment. These data have allowed NYSDOT to show how effective the HELP program has been at decreasing delay and increasing safety.[4] Studies conducted on the incident data to provide insight into the effectiveness of the program in date as far back as 1999, when Garmen Associates reviewed incident data from police records in an attempt to measure incident duration with and without HELP service.[5] Using these data, a rate of occurrence was developed for each incident type per million miles traveled. The study found that incident clearance times for incidents involving lane blockage(s) were significantly reduced with the HELP program.[6]

[1] New York State Department of Transportation website, https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/operating/oom/transportation-systems/systems-optimization-section/ny-moves/tim/tim-nys. Accessed October 15, 2013.
[2] New York State Department of Transportation, Regional Offices website, https://www.dot.ny.gov/regional-offices. Accessed March 22, 2016.
[3] New York State Department of Transportation, HELP website, https://www.dot.ny.gov/helpprogram. Accessed March 22, 2016.
[4] New York State Department of Transportation, HELP Benefits website, https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/operating/oom/transportation-systems/systems-optimization-section/ny-moves/help-program/benefits. Accessed March 22, 2016.
[5] Garmen Associates. H.E.L.P. Benefit Assessment, Final Report, prepared for the New York State Department of Transportation, November 30, 2000, https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/operating/oom/transportation-systems/systems-optimization-section/ny-moves/repository/help-bc.pdf.
[6] “Why do we need H.E.L.P.?” Hudson Valley Transportation Management Center website, http://www.hudsonvalleytraveler.com/perl/HELPTrucksWhy.pl. Accessed October 15, 2013.