When Telecommuting Outstrips Transit

Technology is doing something transit planners have been unable to do for decades - get people out of their cars. People working from home now outnumber mass transit commuters in 27 of the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas.

Telecommuting may be the most cost effective way to reduce rush-hour traffic and it can even improve how a weary nation copes with disasters, from hurricanes to terrorist attacks. It helps improve air quality, highway safety, and even health care as new technology allows top-notch physicians to be (virtually) anywhere.

Telecommuting expands opportunities for the handicapped, conserves energy, andâ€"when used as a substitute for offshore outsourcingâ€"it can help allay globalization fears. It can even make companies more profitable, which is good news for our nation’s managers, many of whom have long been suspicious of telecommuting.

Other than driving alone, telecommuting is the only commute mode to gain market share since 1980. The Census Bureau notes that from 1990 to 2000 the number of those who usually worked at home grew by 23 percent, more than twice the rate of growth of the total labor market. Since 2000, telecommuting has continued to grow in popularity. Roughly 4.5 million Americans telecommute most work days, roughly 20 million telecommute for some period at least once per month, and nearly 45 million telecommute at least once per year.

...Although they effectively receive no public subsidies, telecommuters actually outnumber transit commuters in a majority (27 out of 50) of major metropolitan areas (those with populations over 1 million). Telecommuters outnumber transit commuters in places like San Diego, Dallas, and Phoenix. They outnumber transit commuters by more than two to one in places like Raleigh-Durham, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Nashville. In Oklahoma City telecommuters outnumber transit commuters by nearly five to one."

Thanks to Adrian Moore

Full Story: The Quiet Success: Telecommuniting's Impact on Transportation and Beyond (PDF, 100KB)

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