Telecommuting has the potential to cut back visitors congestion, however different elements, equivalent to rising the gap between house and work or including new journeys, can contribute to producing extra congestion.
Research carried out previous to the COVID-19 pandemic have proven that telecommuting might help cut back visitors congestion by reducing the variety of autos on roads at peak hours and the period of time commuters spend on roads. For instance, a 2004 research in Waterloo, Ont., confirmed that telecommuting may doubtlessly cut back visitors congestion with out affecting different family actions, equivalent to errands, youngsters’s actions or social outings.
But the potential impacts of telecommuting on journey and congestion are troublesome to evaluate. It is because teleworking may additionally have some hostile results, notably these related to dwelling farther from the office.
As researchers in transportation and sustainability, we have an interest within the impacts of telecommuting on journey. One among our current research confirmed that the probability of driving throughout rush-hour durations was barely decrease for telecommuters than it was for many who commuted to work.
The influence of telecommuting on lowering congestion isn’t very noticeable as a result of some telecommuters reorganized their actions, which led to extra journeys throughout peak durations. Additionally, telecommuting was not extensively practised previous to the pandemic, making it troublesome to see the way it contributes to lowering visitors congestion.
Le télétravail aura-t-il des effets bénéfiques sur l’environnement ?
3 times as many telecommuters
In Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic elevated the share of workers that telecommute to 39.1 per cent in March 2020 from 13 per cent in 2019.
On the identical time, decreases in visitors congestion have been noticed all over the world, in line with TomTom, a navigation and route planning system that collects knowledge from the 600 million drivers who use it. In all cities throughout Canada, there was a major discount in visitors congestion within the first week of March 2020 in comparison with the identical interval in 2019, and ranges continued to fall all year long. The bottom level was reached within the second week of April in 2020.
Whereas telecommuting has the potential to cut back automotive journey and reduce congestion throughout peak durations, it will be a mistake to attract conclusions primarily based on its progress in the course of the pandemic.
On the peak of the pandemic, individuals have been much less inclined to journey by public transit as a result of they frightened about rising their danger of an infection. Consequently many opted to journey by automotive as an alternative.
The drop in ridership in Montréal, for instance, has been so important that the regional transport authority doesn’t count on passenger numbers to rebound till 2032. These forecasts place the transit company in a troublesome monetary state of affairs that can result in service reductions and fare will increase.
Different measures taken in the course of the peak of the pandemic — lockdowns, curfews, journey restrictions — additionally contributed to a discount within the variety of autos on the street. Alternatively, in line with the “precept of triple convergence” (much less visitors, new roads or bigger roads), this lower in visitors in the course of the pandemic most certainly persuaded some people to make use of or return to the roads. Those that used for public transit earlier than the pandemic to keep away from visitors congestion might have began utilizing their autos once more.
As well as, whereas telecommuting is prone to be extra frequent sooner or later than it was earlier than the pandemic — 55 per cent of workers say they’d choose to proceed working remotely — there’s each motive to consider that it’s going to additionally change into much less frequent than it’s in the intervening time.
Telecommuting is probably going for use primarily as an occasional complement to commuting. It’s a lot much less prone to change into an entire substitute for commuting. In response to Statistics Canada, 41 per cent of staff would like to work about half their hours at house.
Some choose to return to the office full time, whereas others choose to remain house full time. Splitting time between these two places, nevertheless, is a well-liked choice.
The hostile results of telecommuting
The analysis of telecommuting’s true influence in lowering automotive journey ought to solely be executed after the pandemic, as initially individuals’s behaviour was altered by fears of an infection.
Telecommuting may enhance sure elements of transportation, however one should be vigilant about three doubtlessly hostile results.
First, placing an finish to commuting may result in a rise in motorists who beforehand prevented commuting throughout these instances.
Second, a telecommuter may need fewer journeys to the office however make different journeys as an alternative, making the general stability of journeys lower than, equal to and even higher than that of a commuter. Additionally, the journeys not taken by the telecommuter may release a car to be used by different members of the family.
Third, by lowering or eliminating work-related journey via telecommuting, staff could possibly stay additional away from their office. They might select their location primarily based on different elements, equivalent to a choice for nature, high quality of life or a bigger house, which may result in “telesprawl.” Though such results have been noticed, the total extent of the phenomenon isn’t but recognized.
Whereas telecommuting could also be a lovely instrument for lowering visitors congestion, its potential advantages could possibly be erased due to the behavioural modifications it brings about within the medium and long run. The variety of telecommuters, adjustment of labor schedules, family relocations and a return to public transit will decide the extent of any discount in journey and congestion.