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Title: Estimating and Mitigating the Congestion Effect of Curbside Pick-ups and Drop-Offs: A Causal Inference Approach

Curb space is one of the busiest areas in urban road networks. Especially in recent years, the rapid increase of ride-hailing trips and commercial deliveries has induced massive pick-ups/drop-offs (PUDOs), which occupy the limited curb space that was designed and built decades ago. These PUDOs could jam curbside utilization and disturb the mainline traffic flow, evidently leading to significant negative societal externalities. However, there is a lack of an analytical framework that rigorously quantifies and mitigates the congestion effect of PUDOs in the system view, particularly with little data support and involvement of confounding effects. To bridge this research gap, this paper develops a rigorous causal inference approach to estimate the congestion effect of PUDOs on general regional networks. A causal graph is set to represent the spatiotemporal relationship between PUDOs and traffic speed, and a double and separated machine learning (DSML) method is proposed to quantify how PUDOs affect traffic congestion. Additionally, a rerouting formulation is developed and solved to encourage passenger walking and traffic flow rerouting to achieve system optimization. Numerical experiments are conducted using real-world data in the Manhattan area. On average, 100 additional units of PUDOs in a region could reduce the traffic speed by 3.70 and 4.54 miles/hour (mph) on weekdays and weekends, respectively. Rerouting trips with PUDOs on curb space could respectively reduce the system-wide total travel time (TTT) by 2.44% and 2.12% in Midtown and Central Park on weekdays. A sensitivity analysis is also conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness and robustness of the proposed framework.

Funding: The work described in this paper was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant 52102385], grants from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China [Grants PolyU/25209221 and PolyU/15206322], a grant from the Otto Poon Charitable Foundation Smart Cities Research Institute (SCRI) at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University [Grant P0043552], and a grant from Hong Kong Polytechnic University [Grant P0033933]. S. Qian was supported by a National Science Foundation Grant [Grant CMMI-1931827].

Supplemental Material: The e-companion is available at .

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Transportation Science
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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