Tunnel Traffic

There’s nothing more daunting to a commuter heading into New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal than hearing “Due to a disabled vehicle, please expect delays.” There are also electronic message boards informing commuters of delays.

Without even hearing the announcement, a seasoned commuter, like myself, can figure it out by seeing the length of lines. Lines that normally move at a fast pace – the bus comes, loads up commuters and departs. The next bus comes and does the same thing. It’s a very efficient process. Usually.

If there is a standstill, you can try to figure out how long people have been waiting just by looking at the faces of the people in line. Joining the standstill is daunting because it is a bit of a crap shoot. Will the line start to move? Am I going to be one of those faces in thirty minutes?

I digress. This is what I don’t understand. The Lincoln Tunnel “carries almost 120,000 vehicles per day, making it one of the busiest vehicular tunnels in the world.” Thank you Wikipedia.

Did you get that? IN THE WORLD. That’s a pretty grand statement.

I am going to make an educated guess that most of those vehicles are buses, carrying thousands of travelers. Yet they can’t figure out how to quickly fetch the disabled vehicle to ensure smooth traffic flow in the middle of evening RUSH HOUR?

Granted, it’s a tough job to keep traffic moving and ensure seamless commutes. Which is most of the time. I’m not knocking anyone.  I wouldn’t want to be responsible for getting a disabled vehicle out of the tunnel, or even be that disabled vehicle! I’m sure they have a system down but since I had time to think about solutions on my commute (that was three times as long as normal) earlier this week, here’s my proposed solution.

Caveat: I only know that there are three tunnels. I don’t know anything about traffic planning, routing or any of the other technical stuff that’s probably useful in making general statements like the one I am about to make.

But let’s pretend there is a disabled vehicle in the tunnel. Obviously all the traffic in front of said vehicle can move forward. Everything behind is totally screwed. Well, let’s get all the in front traffic out of the tunnel and have a tow truck planted at either end of the tunnel. Bring that puppy in and tow said disabled vehicle out. This should take mere minutes to clear up.

For further explanation, please see my diagram.

Thankfully, I only take the bus home at night. I wait for the day when the morning ferry is delayed because of too much traffic on the Hudson River.


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