If even a small fraction of workers continue to work remotely or have more flexible hours, the resulting reduction in rush hour travelers could have a significant impact on peak hour congestion.
With a third of U.S. workers in jobs that can be performed remotely, the traditional rush hour–that "uniquely awful" time of day when red brake lights know no end and "there is no good way to get around"–could be history. During the pandemic, writes Emily Badger in the New York Times, people not only worked remotely but also adjusted their work schedules to more flexible hours, flattening traffic peaks and reducing congestion. But, even as the economy reawakens and traffic starts to return, "planners, transit agencies and researchers are now considering the remarkable possibility that in many places it won’t revert to its old shape amid newfound work flexibility."
According to Badger, even a small shift in work hours could make a major difference. Because "roadway congestion is nonlinear," even "a modest number of people working from home on a Thursday" could make peak hour commutes "perceptibly less miserable." This goes for passenger comfort on public transit, too. "Until all the seats are gone, more passengers don’t affect you much. But once the aisle starts to fill up, every new body erodes your personal space and compounds chaos at the boarding door." Research has shown that "marginal changes in commute behavior on Jewish holidays, when most employers remain open but a small share of commuters stays home," create visible benefits in rush hour traffic reduction. "In Washington, D.C., compressed schedules and telework policies for federal workers had created noticeably saner traffic on Friday mornings. On the region’s Metrorail, peak ridership before the pandemic was consistently 10 percent to 15 percent lower on Fridays than midweek."
For decades, the "central paradigm of transportation planning" revolved around how to make rush hour less terrible. If we are able to ease demand at peak times, we can "consider a universe where more people don’t have to time their lives to the rhythm of rush hour — and where whole cities aren’t so preoccupied by what to do about it."
Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’
Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.
Opinion: Aging Population, Declining Fertility Requires Long-Term Investments
Faced with the dire consequences of a one-two punch of aging populations and declining birthrates, one writer has suggestions for how policy can help ensure a better future.
Marrying Urban Identity and Economic Prosperity
A new book posits that truly successful communities have a strong economic base and a firmly rooted sense of place.
Could Los Angeles Emulate Barcelona’s ‘Superblocks’?
A proposal in the city council could bring the ‘superblock’ model to Los Angeles, opening up neighborhood streets to more biking, walking, and public amenities.
San Antonio Office Tower To Become Residential
With the building more than half vacant, the new owners of the Tower Life Building plan to convert the historic tower into residences that could include affordable housing.
Freeway Removal Movement Slowly Gains Steam
Although the concept has recently received more national attention thanks in part to the federal Reconnecting Communities Act, cities have shown reluctance to support highway removal projects.
Sun City Center Community Association, Inc
City of Mesa
Town of Gilbert, Arizona
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.