Prior to December 2013, all Washington D.C. locations where food trucks were permitted to do business were available on a first come-first serve basis. In numerous locations, this led to traffic congestion due to multiple food trucks attempting to occupy a limited number of available spaces.
Beginning in December 2013, in an effort to regulate the most valuable locations where food trucks do business, the Washington D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) implemented the Mobile Roadway Vending (MRV) lottery system. The MRV lottery system assigns the most valuable Washington D.C. food truck locations by lottery. In November 2014, 182 food trucks in the “District of Columbia-Maryland-Virginia” Food Truck Association (DMVFTA) are subject to this schedule. Currently, the nine current MRV locations are:
The purpose of these lottery assignments is to allow food trucks to do business while maintaining traffic flow in D.C., while attempting to be fair to all food trucks that are a part of the lottery. The lottery is designed such that there is only a maximum difference of on assigned location between any two food trucks. For example, if the minimum number of spots a vendor is assigned in a given week is two, then the most spot assignments any other vendor could have in that week is three. Currently, each truck receives either two or three spots per week, but this could change if more food trucks enter the lottery. According to DCRA regulations, spot assignments cannot be sold, but they can be traded on a “one spot for one spot” basis. Each trade must be approved by the DCRA and the current trading system is informal, inefficient, and, as a result, not generally used. This project provides the Food Truck Association (FTA) of D.C. a linear programming-based spot-swapping optimization platform that automates the reassignment of trucks to spots based on their preferences.
The primary sponsor and stakeholder for this project is the DMVFTA. This project seeks to improve the food trucks’ monthly MRV schedule. Other stakeholders in this project are the DCRA, D.C. government, and food truck customers. The DCRA administers the MRV schedule and is responsible for approving all trades that occur between trucks after trading occurs. The D.C. government for the streets and sidewalks in which the food trucks so business, and food truck customers are the reason why food trucks wish to occupy the spaces that they do.