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Could overnight deliveries help ease traffic in New York City?

How overnight deliveries could help alleviate NYC traffic troubles
How overnight deliveries could help alleviate NYC traffic troubles 03:50

NEW YORK -- Congestion pricing was supposed to help ease traffic in New York City, but with the program paused indefinitely, overnight deliveries could offer a solution.

CBS New York political reporter Marcia Kramer spoke to the founder and CEO of a company who says the idea is a win for everyone involved.

But while city transportation officials would like all trucks to switch to off-hours, some say it may not work for everyone.  

Parking problems prompt Lower Manhattan coffee shop to switch to overnight deliveries

At 10 p.m., Birch Coffee Shop in Lower Manhattan is closed, but a deliveryman was hauling goods inside. Shop owner Jeremy Lyman had to take a big leap of faith that it would be safe to trust the delivery company with the code to his front door.

"Was [trust] a big thing? Was that a hurdle?" Kramer asked.

"It was a hurdle in the beginning, but I think with any sort of change there's always going to be some sort of hesitation," Lyman said.

It was done to avoid the daytime parking problems at his Spruce Street store. With cars parked on one side and trucks illegally double-parked on the opposite sidewalk, drivers are barely able to squeeze past. The problem is multiplied by the need for multiple vendors with multiple trucks that couldn't find curb space.

"We would deal with seven vendors, right, and so these seven vendors would be coming in at all different times ... There was always something wrong, there was always an issue," Lyman said.

But then he met Dane Atkinson, who came to him with a common sense proposal.

"It's one of those seemingly obvious things -- why fight traffic?" Atkinson said.

Odeko founder says overnight deliveries are better from an economic standpoint

Atkinson was starting a company, Odeko, which would consolidate all the deliveries and then bring them to the store at night when parking on Spruce Street is not an issue. The selling point was twofold:  convenience and cost.

"From an economic standpoint, it is many times better ... Because of the speed, the efficiency, and that's just the obvious math," he said.

But there are also other benefits to overnight deliveries.

"The amount of tickets you get at night are negligible ... The amount of incidents -- crashes, fender-benders -- is fractional because you're not fighting a million other cars," Atkinson said. "Gas is totally cheaper. We spend $2.1 million a year on gas ... If we were doing it all in the day, it would be 30, 40 percent more because we're just idling."

With New York City streets clogged with congestion, including trucks double- and triple-parking, the idea of overnight deliveries for the coffee industry took off, especially since Odeko's warehouse in Moonachie, New Jersey stocks everything a coffee purveyor could possibly need.

The company now has the keys to many front doors, making overnight deliveries to 1,300 locations in New York City. Seven hundred are in Manhattan, with 550 of those below 60th Street in the Central Business District that would be affected by congestion pricing.

Should more NYC businesses shift to overnight deliveries?

The city Department of Transportation is hoping the Odeko model can be replicated in other industries -- a model that will help the DOT meet its goal of shifting 62,000 trucks to off-hour deliveries by 2040.

"So what do you think this will do if we can get more trucks off the street during the day? How will that affect congestion in New York City?" Kramer asked.

"Hugely. And you can see it just driving around, right? There's a line of cars on the street and then there's a line of trucks, and you're sitting with one lane left to operate in," Atkinson said.

Lyman says overnight deliveries work for him for many reasons. He gets everything at once, including the pastries, and the drivers also stock the shelves so his baristas don't have to do it.

"When they come in in the morning, they know exactly what they have. It's what they're going to use the next couple of days," Lyman said. 

Would he ever go back to daytime deliveries?

"Once the curtain has been pulled back and you see what's on the other side, it's hard to go back. It's hard to go back because it's so much more convenient," Lyman said.

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